SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Jury selection began Monday in the capital murder trial of a man accused of kidnapping and killing 15-year-old Sierra LaMar four years ago.
Potential jurors in the Antolin Garcia-Torres case were being questioned at a San Jose courthouse.
Garcia-Torres is accused of abducting and killing LaMar, who was kidnapped while waiting for a bus near her home in Morgan Hill four years ago.
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Cameras were not allowed inside the courtroom.
Her body has not been found, but prosecutors say DNA evidence links her to Garcia-Torres.
“The DA is overreaching here seeking the death penalty and the prosecution is going to have to deal with the issue that they do not have a body,” said legal analyst Steven Clark. “They’re going to want to question these potential jurors. Can they get a return verdict of guilty when they don’t have a body?”
Garcia-Torres is also accused of attempting to kidnap other women in 2009. He has plead not guilty to all charges.
On Monday, potential jurors were filling out questionnaires. The judge is expecting to see as many as 360 potential jurors on Monday alone.
Something that was a bit of a surprise in court Monday morning was Garcia-Torres presence in the courtroom. The defendant actually addressed potential jurors, thanking them for being in court.
Jury selection could potentially last weeks, but the process is far different than it was even a decade ago.
“Social media has changed jury selection forever. Because it’s now a tool that lawyers can use to really find out any thing they want to know about potential jurors. The lawyers know a lot more than you think they do, particularly in a high profile case with so much at stake,” KPIX 5 Legal Analyst Ladoris Cordell said.
The trial could go on until April.