SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A major South Bay murder trial began its final chapter Tuesday as attorneys started to give their closing arguments in the trial of the man accused of murdering Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.
Antolin Garcia-Torres is the 26-year-old defendant who Santa Clara County prosecutors allege murdered 15-year-old LaMar in 2012.
The trial is wrapping up after almost three months of witness testimony, including discussion of the physical evidence key to the no-body case, including DNA found in Garcia-Torres’ car and on her clothes, which were recovered in a field near her house outside Morgan Hill.
If convicted, the jury could impose the death penalty on Garcia-Torres, who has two children and has been in custody since May 21, 2012.
Garcia-Torres, who has not spoken throughout the trial, confirmed with Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Vanessa Zecher Monday morning that he would not be testifying.
“Nothing has changed,” Garcia-Torres said in court.
Garcia-Torres appeared in court on Tuesday wearing a navy v-neck sweater and dark slacks with his hair slicked back.
Tuesday morning, prosecutor David Boyd began his closing arguments with a blunt statement: “Sierra LaMar is dead and this defendant kidnapped and killed her.”
The prosecution also played the recording of her mother’s distraught 911 call the day LaMar disappeared. Sierra’s father wiped away tears in the courtroom as the recording played.
That moment seemed to touch several jurors and audience members.
“It did have a big impact on me,” said Sierra Search team member Mary Doering. “I can’t imagine that poor mother, coming to the realization that her daughter is actually missing, actually gone. Can’t be found. The panic; the terror.”
The prosecutor lifted up evidence bags containing each piece of her clothing one-by-one and said of the defendant “he took this off the body and then discarded it.”
The prosecution also introduced forensic evidence from dirt on Lamar’s clothes that they said “wasn’t in her environment.” According to expert testimony, the dirt comes from near South Bay reservoirs. Garcia-Torres sat stoic as the prosecutor described how well he knows the areas around local reservoirs.
“He silenced the story that her body would tell by making sure it was never found,” Boyd said at one point.
Additional forensic evidence included LaMar’s clothing fibers found in Garcia-Torres’ car, her hair on a rope in his trunk and his DNA on her pants.
The prosecutor said there is no innocent explanation.
“What the defense has to do now is say, ‘Maybe the forensic evidence shows that Sierra LaMar and Antolin Garcia-Torres met, but does it equal murder?'” explained former prosecutor Steve Clark.
The defense has repeatedly introduced the possibility of LaMar running away from home. On Tuesday, the prosecution called the idea “absurd” and tried to pre-empt the defenses’ arguments.
The defense will likely lay out that theory in its closing arguments once the prosecution finishes on Wednesday.
Garcia-Torres has plead not guilty in this case as well as two additional kidnapping cases that happened in the South Bay.