Hearing scheduled today for suspect in murder of Sierra LaMar

Antolin Garcia Torres' family – his mother Laura Torres (left), sister (center) and wife Francine (right) – leaves the Santa Clara County Hall of Justice in San Jose after his hearing Tuesday.

The plea hearing for the suspect in the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. in the San Jose Hall of Justice.

Antolin Garcia Torres, 21, is charged with the murder, with a special circumstance of kidnapping, of Sierra – who is a sophomore at Sobrato High School. Torres waived his right to appear in July, on Aug. 29 and on Sept. 26. Garcia Torres has not appeared in court since his arraignment in May.

Sierra has been missing from her mother’s north Morgan Hill home since March 16. Santa Clara County sheriff’s investigators think she was kidnapped that morning while walking to her school bus stop near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues.

On the same day that Garcia Torres was scheduled to plea, his father Genaro Garcia Fernandez, 51, was convicted by a jury after two days of deliberation for molesting a female relative when she was a child and raping her beginning at age 7.

Fernandez faces a life sentence after being found guilty of 17 of 18 felony counts. Garcia Torres’ mother and Fernandez’s wife Laura Torres – who came to her son’s defense the day he was arrested saying he could never hurt anyone – also testified during the trial. According to other news reports, she testified Fernandez hit her and that he swore to her he never molested the victims.

Garcia Torres was arrested May 21 for his alleged involvement in the crime.

Sierra, 15, moved to Morgan Hill from Fremont with her mother and mother’s boyfriend about six months before she disappeared.

Authorities have not found Sierra or her remains, but the district attorney thinks she is dead based on her lack of contact with anyone since her disappearance, and the fact that she has no means of independent financial support.

Sierra’s family and volunteers from the KlaasKids Foundation continue to search for her every Saturday. However, Wednesday searches were halted to put more effort into the Saturday searches, according to the KlaasKids Foundation.

This summer, search coordinators, including KlaasKids founder Marc Klaas, reported a frustrating leveling off in search progress, and they need more information from investigators in order to potentially shift their tactics.

For more information about the search for Sierra, go to www.findsierralamar.com.

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