VIDEO: Jury sentences Antolin Garcia-Torres to life without parole for murder of Sierra LaMar


SANTA CLARA COUNTY (KRON) — A Santa Clara County jury has sentenced Antolin Garcia-Torres to life without the possibility of parole for the murder of Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.

Antolin Garcia-Torres, 26, was convicted on May 9 of the 2012 murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar as well as the attempted kidnappings of three women in 2009.

The jury unanimously decided to sentence Garcia-Torres to life without parole, sparing his life.

LaMar’s family sat in the courtroom awaiting the sentencing announcement.

Garcia-Torres’ mother was also present for the announcement.

The penalty phase of the months-long murder trial began on May 16. The jury heard arguments from both sides to determine whether to impose either the death penalty or life in prison without parole.

During the trial, the jurors heard from Sierra LaMar’s family as well as Garcia-Torres’ family. The defense argued that Garcia-Torres was exposed to harmful pesticides as they tried to convince the jury to spare his life.

The defense also brought up the abuse, neglect, and poverty that Garcia-Torres endured as a child.

Garcia-Torres’ older sister, Lucero Garcia, said their father, who is now in prison, was an alcoholic and would often hit their mother in from of them. The convicted killer’s sister also told the jury that her father molested her from age five to 15.

It took the jury only two days of deliberation to find Garcia-Torres guilty of first-degree murder. However, it has taken to jury a lot longer to decide on his punishment.

This time around, the jury might be hung up on the toughest decision any jury can be asked to make, according to legal analyst Steven Clark.

After the guilty verdict was announced, Sierra’s mother, Marlene LaMar, said nothing will take away the pain of losing her daughter. However, she feels “grateful and blessed” that the jury came to this verdict.

On March 16, 2012, 15-year-old Sierra LaMar disappeared early in the morning on a lonely rural road in Morgan Hill. She was headed to the school bus stop just a few minutes walk from her home.

FULL COVERAGE: Sierra LaMar murder trial

The next day, sheriff’s deputies began searching nearby fields. They discovered Sierra’s cellphone in a field a couple of blocks away. Then on March 18, Sierra’s purse was found, a Juicy Couture bag containing pants, a T-shirt, and underclothes, about two miles from her home.

After three years and 54,000 hours of searching for their daughter, the parents of Sierra LaMar suspended the search efforts on March 14, 2015.

With no body ever found, investigators had to rely on forensic evidence to link the defendant to Sierra Lamar’s disappearance.

Two months after Sierra’s disappearance, Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested when LaMar’s DNA was found in the trunk his car and on her clothes, which were recovered in a field near her house outside Morgan Hill.

A grand jury indicted Garcia-Torres for the kidnapping and murder of Sierra on Feb. 11, 2014 and two days later he pleaded not guilty.A grand jury indicted Garcia-Torres for the kidnapping and murder of Sierra on Feb. 11, 2014 and two days later he pleaded not guilty.

After years of delays, the trial for the murder of LaMar began on Jan. 20, 2017.

Garcia-Torres was also charged with three attempted kidnappings after three women alleged that he tried to kidnap them in a Morgan Hill Safeway parking lot in 2009.

The trial wrapped up after almost three months of witness testimony, including discussion of the physical evidence key to the no body case.

The Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office has issued the following statement:

A jury today sentenced the murderer of 15-year-old Sierra Lamar to life without parole. Antolin Garcia-Torres, 26, was convicted last month by the same jury of Sierra’s first-degree murder, as well as Taser attacks and kidnapping attempts on three other women. District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who had sought capital punishment, said he was satisfied that the convicted murderer would never draw “another free breath.” District Attorney Rosen said: “For us, for our community, this is a day of significance and sadness. Yes, it is a day of justice and ultimate accountability for the person that snatched Sierra’s future away. But, no, Sierra is not coming home. Human justice can hold the guilty accountable, but it cannot resurrect the dead. There is no joy with today’s death verdict, only mourning for the murder of a child, a void that will ache forever, a hole that will never be filled.” The jury deliberated for three days to decide the sentence, following a penalty phase trial. The three kidnapping attempts – all against women in grocery store parking lots – occurred in 2009. Sierra Lamar was kidnapped in Morgan Hill in 2012 and killed. Her body has not yet been found.

FULL COVERAGE OF SIERRA LAMAR MURDER TRIAL:

 

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