Sierra suspect appears in court for the first time in five months - Morgan Hill Times: Crime Fire Courts

Sierra suspect appears in court for the first time in five months

Garcia Torres again declines to enter plea in teen murder case

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Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2013 4:35 pm | Updated: 11:37 am, Thu May 23, 2013.

Antolin Garcia Torres, 22 of Morgan Hill, appeared in court Thursday for the first time since December to face charges that he kidnapped and murdered Sierra LaMar, but he again declined to enter a plea, according to authorities.

The scheduled plea hearing at the Hall of Justice in San Jose was continued to 9 a.m. June 27, according to Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd.

Just prior to the hearing, Superior Court Judge Sharon Ann Chatman issued a “minute order” requiring Garcia Torres to appear at Thursday’s hearing.

“Defendant to have haircut and needs to be dressed out at next hearing,” a hand-written note on the judge’s order says.

Garcia Torres was arrested in May 2012 on suspicion of kidnapping and killing Sierra, who was 15 at the time of her disappearance.

Sierra vanished from her north Morgan Hill home March 16, 2012 while walking to her school bus stop near the intersection of Palm and Dougherty avenues, police said. She was a sophomore at Sobrato High School at the time, and she and her mother had moved to Morgan Hill six months earlier from Fremont, where Sierra attended Washington High School.

Sierra’s remains have not been found, but authorities think she is dead based on a lack of communication from her since the morning she disappeared.

According to a volunteer who continues to search every Saturday for any sign of what happened to Sierra and attended Thursday’s hearing, Garcia Torres’ attorney said he could not enter a plea because they had not received all the evidence they requested from the D.A.’s office.

The volunteer, Debbie Nunes of Morgan Hill, said she was “disappointed” that Boyd, the prosecutor originally assigned to the case, was not present. Another deputy prosecutor, Michael Fletcher, represented the people instead, Boyd said.

Nunes added she was upset that Fletcher did not object to Garcia Torres’ request for a delay.

“I feel like we shouldn’t contribute to the delays, and the DA’s need to represent the LaMars,” Nunes said.

Garcia Torres is also charged in three unrelated attempted kidnapping incidents in 2009, in which authorities say he approached three different women in the parking lots of Morgan Hill Safeway stores and entered their cars. He allegedly tried to assault the women, but he was frightened away by the victims or passersby before causing any serious injuries.

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