Over two years after Morgan Hill, California teenager Sierra LaMar disappeared, grand jury transcripts have been released detailing evidence against murder suspect Antolin Garcia-Torres.
The court in Santa Clara County forwarded a 1,900 page document to the San Jose Mercury News on Friday, which revealed that Garcia-Torres left behind a substantial amount of evidence regarding 15-year-old LaMar's vanishing, and that the suspect mentioned details surrounding the disappearance to investigators before being asked. LaMar's body has yet to be recovered.
Legal expert Steve Clark commented, “They (authorities) believe she was tied up, bound, dragged, placed in the trunk. This was not an innocent encounter." Clark added, “The fact that Sierra Lamar’s hair was found on a rope inside of Garcia-Torres’ trunk, there is no innocent explanation for that."
— KTVU (@KTVU) March 17, 2014
The transcript also revealed that Garcia-Torres’ DNA was found on LaMar’s pants, and that dirt was found on LaMar's clothing, indicating that the teen may have been dragged.
The grand jury had written that Garcia-Torres tried to explain the evidence, “But he volunteered that information before anyone ever brought up [the topic of] sperm to him, or before anyone said that that was found,” Clark commented. “That’s very damaging, why he would try to immediately initiate that kind of a conversation. [It's] very peculiar, and I think it will prove to be very damaging.”
Garcia-Torres has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murder charges, and the prosecution might have a hard time pushing for the death penalty without a body. “Is it going to be a death case? Hard to say without a body but the DA did show us a lot of their cards,” Clark remarked.
Volunteers were out searching today, as they have for 2 years, for missing teenager Sierra LaMar http://t.co/oS3XJEFIG0
— KTVU (@KTVU) July 13, 2014
The Mercury News sued the court for the release of the transcripts, despite opposition from Garcia-Torres’ attorneys, who believed the extra media attention would diminish chances of a fair trial.
David J. Butler, editor and senior vice president for news at the Bay Area News Group, commented, "It's vital for the public to understand what occurred during the secret grand jury proceeding, particularly since the prosecution is seeking the death penalty in this case."
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