Sierra kidnapping suspect’s hearing postponed

Antolin Garcia-Torres, the Morgan Hill man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar, enters the courtroom Thursday at the Santa Clara County Superior Court Hall of Justice in San Jose. His arraignment hearing was continued one week and will now ta

The rescheduled arraignment hearing for the Morgan Hill man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar was postponed again Thursday. 

The hearing for Antolin Garcia Torres at the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose was again rescheduled to July 10, according to district attorney’s media relations coordinator Sean Webby. Garcia Torres has yet to enter a plea. 

Garcia Torres is charged with murder, with a special circumstance of kidnapping. A resident of the Maple Leaf RV Park where he lived with his pregnant wife, child and mother, the suspect remains in custody at Santa Clara County Jail without bail. 

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Garcia Torres May 21 for his suspected involvement in the disappearance of Sierra, a 15-year-old cheerleader from north Morgan Hill, by way of Fremont, who has been missing since March 16.

That arrest followed weeks of 24-hour surveillance on the suspect, who drove a red Volkswagen Jetta that authorities linked to the teen’s kidnapping and released photographs of earlier this month. 

Investigators and volunteers continue to search for Sierra or her remains, but prosecutors will attempt to convict Garcia Torres even if they do not find a body, authorities have said. 

DNA evidence links Garcia Torres to the teen’s disappearance, the sheriff has said. Garcia Torres’ DNA was found on Sierra’s purse and clothing which were found near a shed in a field about two miles from Sierra’s home. Sierra’s DNA was found in Garcia Torres’ car. 

The sheriff’s dive team is tentatively planning to conduct another search of Uvas reservoir early next week, according to Sgt. Jose Cardoza. 

Garcia Torres’ family have told media people in recent days that the suspect told them, after he learned that detectives were investigating him, that he said he was fishing at Uvas the day Sierra disappeared. 

However, Cardoza said he cannot confirm that the decision to return to Uvas, or even to begin searching area waterways as of late March, was related to Garcia Torres’ angling habits. 

“It’s an open case, so we can’t comment on anything he has or hasn’t said,” Cardoza said. “We have a suspect in custody, so detectives are working with the D.A.’s office now.” 

Authorities began investigating the suspect March 28, and confiscated his car April 7. They also searched his home at least once and confiscated other unidentified items before his arrest. 

Volunteers continue searching for Sierra as well. On Wednesday, about 100 volunteers showed up to Burnett Elementary School to assist in the search efforts with KlaasKids Foundation. 

Foundation founder Marc Klaas said at a fundraiser at Jason Stephens Winery Friday and repeated Thursday that he thinks it’s possible that Sierra is still alive. 

“At the time (of Garcia Torres’ arrest), this guy did not have an extensive arrest record, did not have a known history of violence against women, there’s no murder weapon, no means of murder and body,” Klaas said. “That’s a hard case to make.” 

The fundraiser, which featured live bands Suga Dady and James Wesley as well as a silent auction, raised more than $15,000 for the Sierra LaMar Fund, which helps the teen’s family offset expenses associated with the search, Jason Stephens winemaker Jason Goelz said. 

About 600 people attended the fundraiser, Goelz added. 

Goelz added that a mutual friend of his and Sierra’s family suggested the winery, which has hosted similar concert events in the past, host the fundraiser. 

“It was a good opportunity to help the family out and raise awareness,” Goelz said. 

Klaas added the fundraiser was “an opportunity for people to let the stress go for a few hours.” 

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