SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Jury deliberations began Thursday morning in the trial of Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man accused of kidnapping and killing Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.
The judge gave the jury instructions prior to handing the case over for deliberations shortly before 11 a.m.
Garcia-Torres is charged with capital murder. LaMar disappeared on her way to school in Morgan Hill in 2012. Her body has never been found.
The prosecution had its final rebuttal Thursday morning, rebuking the defense’s statements from their closing arguments and highlighting the forensic evidence in the case.
LaMar’s clothing fibers were found in Garcia-Torres’ car, along with her hair on a rope in his trunk. Additionally, the defendant’s DNA was found on her pants.
The challenge for the prosecution was the lack of a body and a crime scene.
But Thursday, the prosecutor told the jury, “I do not have to prove to you the manner in which Miss LaMar died, just that the defendant is the cause.”
He also asked them to “reject the unreasonable and accept the reasonable” in a murder case with no body.
On Wednesday during his closing arguments, defense attorney Al Lopez walked a tightrope with the jury as he presented closing arguments, at one point channeling a former late-night comedian in an attempt to cast doubt that Sierra LaMar is even dead.
But according to one legal analyst, his unusual methods defending Garcia-Torres seemed to be making a connection with the jury in a positive way.
“The defense did a good job of relating to the jury in what is a very difficult case, the kidnap and murder of a teenager,” said former prosecutor and legal analyst Steve Clark.
Lopez came up with a David Letterman-style top ten list for why Garcia-Torres is not guilty.
The list included the defendant’s calm demeanor, the lack of tools that might have been used to hide the body, the absence of a murder weapon and witnesses, the lack of a crime scene, the fact that the prosecution could not prove a cause of death.
Outside the courthouse Thursday, Sierra’s father Steve LaMar spoke briefly.
“It’s been a long trial, but it’s just a blink of an eye compared to how much time we haven’t had Sierra with us,” said LaMar. “Now we wait and we pray and we hope for justice for Sierra.”
Garcia-Torres is also accused of trying to kidnap three other women in 2009. As in the LaMar case, he has plead not guilty to those charges.