A plea entry for the man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar was postponed yet again in Santa Clara County Superior Court this morning. Judge Sharon Chatman scheduled a new plea hearing for Antolin Garcia Torres for July 23 after his lawyer said prosecutors had not turned over required information to the defense. Chatman had previously postponed the case on April 4 after defense attorneys complained that compact discs they had been given that contained evidence prosecutors planned to present in the case were defective.
The judge had rescheduled the hearing for April 18 but it was continued again until May 16, and then reset once again to today. Garcia Torres, 21, who showed up in court in a business suit this morning, still has not entered a plea in the case. Prosecutors have charged him with kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar, 15, who was last seen at her home outside Morgan Hill before she left for school on March 16, 2012.
The sheriff’s office arrested Garcia Torres on May 21, and the district attorney’s office charged him with murdering the teen after detectives found DNA believed to be Sierra’s inside his red Volkswagen Jetta. The courtroom audience this morning included about a half-dozen supporters of Sierra who are frustrated that the pre-trail phase has stretched for more than a year. Before the brief hearing ended, Chatman said she understands the family’s sentiment but that the judicial system is “a balancing act” that also has to respect the rights of the accused. “Both sides are working hard to move this case forward,” Chatman said.
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