Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against the man accused of killing Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
In February, Antolin Garcia-Torres, 22, pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment alleging that he kidnapped and murdered the 15-year-old girl in 2012 and tried to capture three other women during attempted carjackings in 2009. Sierra's body has not been found.
“Given the facts of this case and after a comprehensive review by a committee of senior prosecutors, I have concluded that this defendant should face the ultimate penalty,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a prepared statement.
The indictment handed down earlier this year supplants the need for a preliminary hearing. The case will go to a jury trial.
“Now, we will go forward with the prosecution of all four crimes against the defendant,” added Rosen, in what marks his first bid for a death penalty as DA.
Upon a guilty verdict for kidnapping and murder, the court would hold another hearing for the jury to decide if the death penalty is an appropriate punishment. Rosen said he will withhold comment on the case to ensure that Garcia-Torres receives a fair trial.
Rosen submitted his decision in a letter to Thang N. Barrett, the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s presiding criminal judge.
The agency’s protocol for seeking capital punishment bars it from being used as a negotiating advantage.
Sierra disappeared on her way to school March 16, 2012. Though her body remains missing, investigators say they found her DNA on the suspect’s Volkswagen Jetta. Her clothes were found in a field near the bus stop by her home in unincorporated Morgan Hill.