Garcia Torres, DA’s Office still sharing evidence

Antolin Garcia Torres stands in court for a plea hearing Thursday with his lawyers at the San Jose Hall of Justice.

Antolin Garcia Torres, the Morgan Hill man accused of kidnapping and killing Sierra LaMar, declined to enter a plea yet again Thursday at the Hall of Justice in San Jose today, as the attorneys involved in the case have yet to complete the evidence sharing process.
The hearing for Garcia Torres, 22, was continued to Oct. 3 at the San Jose courthouse.
One of the volunteers who continues to search for Sierra, who was 15 when she vanished from just outside her mother’s north Morgan Hill home March 16, 2012, said the continuance – the latest of several for the suspect – was “frustrating.”
“It’s almost becoming the norm to be frustrated,” said David Arocha, a Sunnyvale resident who will be participating Saturday in his 60th search session for Sierra since she disappeared. No sign of Sierra’s whereabouts has been found since her disappearance. 
Garcia Torres is charged with murder, with a special circumstance of kidnapping. He appeared in court Thursday wearing a brown suit, white buttoned-down shirt and brown patterned tie. He smiled and laughed while chatting with his attorneys as they sat in the front of the courtroom waiting for the judge to enter.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Brian Welch, sitting in for Deputy DA David Boyd on the case, said prosecutors have only recently received what he thinks is the last of Sheriff’s evidence related to the case. He said he will be able to hand over the remainder of the evidence to Garcia Torres within the next couple of weeks.
Garcia Torres’ attorney, Traci Owens of the County’s Alternate Defender’s Office, said the defendant has “not had full disclosure for as long as we’d like to,” and the Court cannot ensure Garcia Torres’ constitutional right to due process without such disclosure.    
Outside the courtroom after the hearing, Welch stopped to answer questions from about five volunteers, including Arocha, who attended the proceeding. He said due to the complexity and gravity of the case, the proceedings for Garcia Torres are almost certain to continue into next year without a conclusion.
Welch added that it is “typical” in similar cases for plea hearings and evidence sharing to last as long as it has in the Garcia Torres case.
Garcia Torres was arrested May 22, 2012 on suspicion of kidnapping and murdering Sierra.
Arocha said he was glad the prosecutor took the time to talk to the volunteers who have showed up at numerous hearings for Garcia Torres.
“We want to keep it in the public eye,” Arocha said.
Sierra disappeared from her mother’s home while she was walking to catch the school bus near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues, according to police.
Although her remains have not been found, investigators think she is dead due to her lack of communication with anyone since her disappearance.
Sierra was a sophomore at Sobrato High School at the time of her disappearance. She and her mother had moved to Morgan Hill from Fremont about six months before she disappeared.
Garcia Torres remains in custody at Santa Clara County Jail.
Volunteers and the KlaasKids Foundation continue to organize search efforts every Saturday. The searches start at 10 a.m. at Central High School, 17960 Monterey Road. For more information, go to www.findsierralamar.com.

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