MORGAN HILL (KCBS) – The man accused of kidnapping and murdering 15-year-old Sierra LaMar in Morgan Hill was scheduled for a court appearance Tuesday morning but instead his attorney appeared in his behalf and he did not enter a plea.

The plea hearing for 21-year-old Antolin Garcia Torres was continued until August 29th.

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Legal analyst and former prosecutor Steven Clark was not surprised and said the judge was going to give the defense a lot of latitude in this case based on the fluidity of this huge ongoing investigation in the search for Sierra LaMar’s body.

“The prosecutor’s office is going to continue working on this case. I think the judge is going to give the defense all the time they need,” Clark said.

Clark noted there’s also been a change of attorney’s and equated that with the defendant having to start from scratch.

Garcia Torres was arrested in May and has been held in Santa Clara County Jail ever since. He has been charged with murder with the special circumstance of kidnapping.

KCBS’ Mike Colgan Reports:

Although authorities said the suspect’s DNA was found on Sierra’s clothes and her DNA was found in his car, neither her body or blood have turned up.

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That has been spurring on a small group of about 40 volunteers in Morgan Hill, who still go out twice a week, searching for either her body or clues in the case.

Even though the missing teen disappeared four months ago, the dedicated group is continuing their efforts, looking for any sign that may help convict Garcia Torres.

Trisha Burkhart said she’s amazed by the dedication of volunteers in the tight-knit community of Morgan Hill.

“I really appreciate the fact that there are so many people that are so devoted because if she’s still out there, they need to find her,” she said. “I’ve never seen a community pull together like this one.”

Burkhart has friends who have been part of the search.

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