SAN JOSE (KRON) — A deputy linked to the investigation into the Sierra LaMar murder case continued his testimony and was cross-examined by defense attorneys Thursday in Day 4 of the trial, and KRON4’s Rob Fladeboe was in the courtroom gathering all the details.
The murder suspect Antolin Garcia-Torres was charged in the 2012 killing of 15-year-old Sierra Lamar. On Wednesday, and on Thursday, the deputy testified about the evidence.
Prosecutors have argued that Garcia-Torres’ DNA is on Sierra’s clothing, which was found in a field after her disappearance along with other personal items including her lunch money, makeup, and inhaler.
In the cross-examination of the deputy, Garcia-Torres’ attorney Al Lopez attacked the evidence. The deputy said mud from Sierra’s bag “might be on board with other items,” according to Rob.
On Thursday, the jury saw makeup, books, snacks, and other items in LaMar’s bag as the deputy testified how he handled and photographed the items.
The defense’s strategy, according to legal analyst Steven Clark, is to cast doubt on the integrity of that evidence, trying to show that deputies were sloppy and did not follow proper protocol.
The defense also said the evidence was contaminated by an insect.
Later in the trial on Thursday, three classmates testified. One said they would ride the bus together and answered questions about Sierra’s phone, social media, and her school.
Karissa Pugh, Claire Normoyle and Brittany Stonehouse, all classmates and friends of Sierra who saw and talked to her regularly before she disappeared, each testified that Sierra had not shown any sign or had any obvious reason to want to leave her friends and family as a runaway.
Each woman told Boyd that to her knowledge, Sierra had no passport, driver’s license, bank account, credit card, source of money other than her parents or anywhere to stay other than with her family.
In his cross-examination, Lopez asked Pugh whether a state ID or credit card was needed to set up an email or social media account, seeming to suggest that Sierra could have had a secret life away from her friends, a question that Superior Court Judge Vanessa Zecher said was “going a little far afield.”
Lopez also attempted to lay the groundwork for the case that the DNA found on Sierra’s clothing could have belonged to someone other than Garcia-Torres.
Later, one classmate teared up after watching a video of Sierra and testified she did not know Garica-Torres. The judge handed her a tissue.
Lopez asked Stonehouse whether she would have washed her custom San Jose Sharks sweatshirt, which Sierra wore the day she disappeared and was found later with the rest of her clothes, in the same load of her family’s laundry, to which she said yes.
Lopez also asked Pugh whether she, Sierra and their other friends would have shared jeans in addition to T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweaters, to which she answered no. Sierra’s jeans were among the items found in her backpack.
One of LaMar’s friend also said LaMar was not happy about the at-the-time recent move from Fremont to Morgan Hill.
Later in the trial, the defense is expected to argue that LaMar was a party girl and run away to explain her disappearance, Rob said.
When Lopez asked Pugh whether Sierra ever talked about going to house parties, she struggled to remember until shown a police report logging an interview with a detective.
— @Rob Fladeboe kron4 (@KRON4RFladeboe) February 2, 2017
However, the defense attorney was forced to withdraw a question about whether Sierra had planned to take drugs at a party. The subject of drug use is one of the topics considered off-limits in the trial.
The proceeding wrapped up at around 4 p.m. Thursday. The trial will resume on Monday.
The trial could run through April, with more than 100 witnesses expected to testify.