SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen announced Monday that his office will seek the death penalty against Antolin Garcia-Torres in the 2012 kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar in Morgan Hill.
Rosen said he came to the conclusion after evaluating the criminal case against Garcia-Torres, who was indicted by a grand jury on Feb. 11 for Sierra’s murder and kidnapping and for attempting to carjack three women in Morgan Hill in 2009.
“Given the facts of this case and after a comprehensive review by a committee of senior prosecutors, I have concluded that this defendant should face the ultimate penalty,” Rosen said in a prepared statement.
“Now, we will go forward with the prosecution of all four crimes against the defendant,” Rosen said.
“Upon a guilty verdict for kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar, there is an additional hearing for the jury to decide if the death penalty is the appropriate punishment,” he said.
Rosen said that he has informed Superior Court Judge Thang Barrett, Garcia-Torres’ defense attorneys and members of Sierra’s family of his decision to argue that the defendant should be put to death if found guilty in the case.
Garcia-Torres, 23, has been in county jail in San Jose since his arrest on May 21, 2012, in connection with Sierra’s disappearance. He pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping and carjacking charges on Feb. 13.
Prosecutors in the case believe that as Sierra walked to catch a bus for school on March 16, 2012, Garcia-Torres lured her into his red Volkswagen Jetta and killed her. Sheriff’s deputies have said they located evidence of the girl’s DNA in the Jetta.
Garcia-Torres is also charged with assaulting and trying to carjack three women on March 19 and March 26, 2009, in Safeway parking lots in Morgan Hill.
Rosen reached the decision to seek the death penalty after a meeting with the Death Penalty Review Committee, which considers cases submitted by the district attorney’s homicide unit.
The committee then decides whether to hold a penalty hearing and gives the defense a chance to present arguments against the death penalty in the case.
The panel attempts to make a decision about seeking a death sentence in the assigned case within six months after the filing of the criminal complaint.
Members of the committee include Rosen, the chief assistant district attorney, the assistant district attorney of the homicide unit, the supervising district attorney of the homicide unit, the chief trial attorney and an attorney assigned for the specific case under review.
The prosecutor in the Sierra LaMar case is Deputy District Attorney David Boyd.
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