Suspect in disappearance of Calif. teen arraigned
SAN JOSE, Calif. – A man accused in the disappearance of a 15-year-old California girl made his first appearance in court Thursday but did not enter a plea.
Antolin Garcia-Torres was arraigned on murder and kidnapping charges in a Santa Clara County courtroom. He was appointed a public defender.
Garcia-Torres stood next to his lawyer while a judge ordered him back to court May 31 to enter a plea.
He spent the entire five-minute proceeding hanging his head and staring at the floor before he was returned to jail, where he is being held without bail.
Garcia-Torres, 21, was arrested earlier this week after authorities said the DNA of Sierra LaMar was found in his car and his DNA was found inside the teen’s handbag.
Garcia-Torres could be eligible for the death penalty if convicted.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said his office will make that decision after consulting with the LaMar family and examining the case with other prosecutors.
Sheriff Laurie Smith said Sierra and Garcia-Torres did not know each other. Her abduction is believed to be a random act of violence.
Sierra, who remains missing, was last seen by her family leaving her Morgan Hill home on March 16. Investigators believe she was kidnapped while walking to a school
On March 18, her school books, purse and clothing were found near a shed in a field about two miles from her home.
Sierra’s DNA was later found in Garcia Torres’ Volkswagen Jetta, which investigators seized on April 7 from a trailer he shared with his mother, girlfriend and young daughter.
Garcia-Torres lived about seven miles from LaMar.