MORGAN HILL (KCBS) – The court-appointed attorney for the man accused of kidnapping and murdering a Morgan Hill teenager has been removed from the case.
Public Defender Ken Mandel asked to be taken off the Sierra LaMar murder case because of a conflict of interest. The court did not make public what the conflict might be.
Suspect Antolin Garcia-Torres will now be represented by someone from the alternate defenders office, which handles cases when the public defender has a conflict. His next court appearance has been pushed back from July 10 to July 31.
The change in defense attorneys comes as the KlaasKids Foundation expanded the terms to qualify for a $25,000 reward being offered in the case.
Initially the reward was offered for information leading to the safe return of LaMar.
Now those terms are being expanded to information leading to the successful prosecution of the person responsible for LaMar’s disappearance.
Garcia-Torres was arrested May 21 after authorities said Sierra LaMar’s DNA was found in the 21-year-old’s car and his DNA was found inside the teen’s handbag.
Prosecutors say Garcia-Torres could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Sierra was last seen by her family leaving home for school on March 16.
Her family is holding out hope that she is alive, but authorities believe she was kidnapped and murdered.
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)