SANTA CLARA (KCBS) – The man accused of kidnapping and killing Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar is facing new charges for three previous attempted kidnappings, Santa Clara County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Prosecutors have filed three additional charges against Antolin Garcia Torres, 21, for attempted kidnapping in the commission of carjacking. Investigators said that all three kidnapping attempts of women happened in March of 2009 near the Safeway store where Garcia Torres worked. One of the attacks included the use of stun gun.
KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:
On March 19, 2009, a 36-year-old Morgan Hill woman reported being followed to her car in the parking lot of the Safeway at 840 E. Dunne Ave. just before 11 p.m., according to police.
About half an hour later, another woman reported being attacked in the parking lot of a Safeway at 235 Tennant Station.
That woman, a 46-year-old San Martin resident, told police that a man had used a stun gun on the back of her neck and head but fled when someone nearby heard her screaming, police said.
Then, on March 26, an 18-year-old Gilroy woman told police that a man had attacked her while she was sitting in her car around 8:40 p.m. in the parking lot of the East Dunn Avenue Safeway, police said.
The woman told police that the man had opened her car door as she was taking a pocketknife out of her glove compartment to protect herself, police said.
But the man grabbed her hand and brought the blade up to her neck, according to police.
After a brief struggle, the woman’s screams apparently caused the man to flee, police said.
All women offered similar descriptions of their attacker, and at the time of the attacks, Morgan Hill police said they were looking for one suspect in connection with all three incidents.
Morgan Hill police also released a sketch of the suspect, which media then re-released in May after Garcia Torres was arrested on suspicion of murdering LaMar, based on the sketch’s likeness to the accused killer.
At the time of Garcia Torres’ arrest, Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith had hinted at Garcia Torres’ connection to three other incidents that occurred in March 2009.
Garcia Torres had worked at the Tennant Avenue Safeway.
Although Garcia Torres was 17 at the time of the alleged crimes, Boyd said his office had been granted permission by a juvenile court judge to charge him as an adult.
Legal analyst Steven Clark said that convicting Garcia Torres of killing LaMar could be difficult and these additional charges give prosecutors a strategic advantage.
“They have to show that there’s a sinister outcome here and being able to show he’s attempted other kidnappings of other females—that is a huge benefit to the DA’s case,” he said.
The defense, however, is likely try to keep the charges out of any potential murder trial.
“They’ll say it’s too prejudicial and too much opportunity for spillover and the jury shouldn’t be able to hear it unless Garcia Torres takes the stand,” Clark said
Sierra LaMar, 15, disappeared on March 16 while on her way to a rural bus stop near her home in Morgan Hill. Her body was never found.
Garcia Torres DNA was found on LaMarr’s clothes which were found discarded in a field near the bus stop. LaMarr’s DNA was also found in the suspect’s red Volkswagen Jetta.
Garcia Torres has been in jail since May and is due back in court on Dec. 10 for an expected arraignment.
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