DA Seeks Death Penalty in Sierra LaMar Case

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.

Jennifer Wadsworth is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Newspaper. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

8 Comments

  1. An unusual display of cojones from DA Rosen. Unfortunately, unless there is some strong evidence that has never been made public, getting a conviction will be made more difficult by making this a death penalty case, unless Ms. LaMar’s body is found before trial AND there is an evidentiary link on her remains to the defendant. Also, this choice virtually guarantees that the defendant won’t go to trail for a few more years. All in all, a poor choice for a first death penalty case in SCC under DA Rosen.

    • Not to mention there’s a de facto moratorium on the death penalty, he’s probably just hoping for a plea to life without parole

  2. After he stopped short of pushing for capital punishment against those youngsters who terrorized their dorm mate at SJSU, I didn’t figure on this D.A. ever again seeking the death penalty. I mean, Antolin Garcia-Torres may have killed one innocent young girl and assaulted three others, but his crimes, by measure of the community’s reaction, seem to pale in importance to the crimes committed against one apparently cowed and defenseless San Jose State student.

    If I recall correctly, the community response to the Sierra LaMar case was almost wholly concerned with the victim and her family, searching high and low for the missing girl and offering its prayers and support to her traumatized family. Nothing was made or insinuated about the race or social background of the alleged killer; no one attempted to indict his family, his school, his Hispanic peers. His actions were recognized as monstrous and beyond comprehension, but understood as his alone.

    Contrast that to the community response to the SJSU case, in which the local black community took one look at those accused white boys and took to the streets. The boys’ race was not only noticed, it was dragged out into the public square and set upon by race hustler’s from every corner. The hustlers declared open season not on group stupidity or gross immaturity, but on white racism — the real deep pockets in the race game. Indicted were: the boy’s ethnic and social background; the university administration; the non-minority student body (guess who?); the resident advisors; and the endemic racism of the American culture.

    It was a virtual looting of our community. LaDoris Cordell imagined that big screen in the store window and couldn’t wait to take to start chucking bricks. This was an event to exploit, one sure to get the full support of a local media longing for a Rosa Parks of its own. The fact that the young black student walked away physically unscathed mattered not. His “injuries” (five million dollars worth, to start) were treated as if he’d been rescued from a lynching instead of handful of insults.

    America’s race industry may be reduced to demonizing stupid college kids and dizzy 81 year olds, but they still know how to suffer in public, grab headlines, and make the white folks pay. They’re don’t want to overcome anything, they found out it’s better to be overcompensated.

    • Finfan: Your comment doesn’t belong on this blog, let anyone anywhere on the Internet. You clearly have serious mental issues.

      • FinFan has every right to express an opinion on this blog. the rational and thoughtful piece written was far more salient than dropping a “mental illness” comment. That may be a form of discrimination right there Armand – Yo – check yourself.
        and can anyone doubt the race label gets played all the time? Especially by those on the left and in the media?. Sure what Sterling said about bringing “blacks to my game” was unkind – but was it racist? Maybe he was simply trying to specify which of the woman’s boyfriends he was referring to. What if he had said – “don’t bring your Irish (Greek, Canadian or Latin Lovers) to my ball games? Would that have been racist? And he said it is his own home!!!!
        What if someone taped something you said in your own home? Are you 100% pure of any prejudice?

        Now lets turn the card over.

        During the media hysteria on the Sterling comment – Spike Lee – – a black man – vociferously proclaimed his outrage at Sterling ON NBA TV and CNN. “How dare that evil Sterling talk like that? Strip him of ownership, fine him heavily and kick him out!!!””

        Now Armand – do a search on Spike Lee’s racist comments – made in public and please report what you find and then please explain to this forum how the left and the media does not play the race card.

      • NBA Commissioner Silver said there is no place in the NBA for racist language, even if said in the privacy of your own home.

        However, there apparently is a place for physical violence in the NBA. Ron Artest (Metta World Thug) and Stephen “It felt good to hit a fan” Jackson pummeling fans in the stands, Gilbert Arenas carrying guns into the locker room, Jason Kidd choking out his girlfriend, DeShawn Stevenson raping a 14 year old, Isiah Thomas, sexual harassment, Jason Richardson going 95 in a 35 with his 3 year old son in the front seat of the car and who was not in a child safety seat. The list of black thugs goes on and on, and yet there remains a place for them in the NBA. However, there is no place in the NBA for perceived racist language in your home. Anyone who dares criticize black people for their violent actions is labeled a racist, or mentally ill by the likes of Senor Sanchez.

        The NBA thugs get relative slaps on the wrist for violent behavior, drug possession and use, and weapons charges. Mr. Silver bans Mr. Sterling for life and wants to take away his franchise for a bunch of very poorly chosen words; nevertheless, just words. It’s not PC to say anything bad about black people, even when they’re thugs. Apparently it’s not PC to do anything about black thugs either. But heaven forbid a white person speaks up.

  3. Mr. Sanchez,

    If censorship and shoot-from-the-hip pronouncements of mental illness constitute your typical response to an opinion you find objectionable you would’ve been a great fit in Stalin’s secret police. Totalitarians love a shallow thinking, natural-born oppressor.

    Come to think of it, President Obama may have a job for you.

  4. This case will now drag on for years because of no body. Thanks DA, hard to prove a death as it is with no body, what makes this a death trial? I sure hope you got some good evidence other than some DNA in the car! I think this is a good time to elect a new sheriff.