Update: Accused Killer of Sierra Lamar Appears In Court, Arraignment Continued

By: Brian Shields - Thu, 24 May 2012 16:04:50 -0800

MORGAN HILL (KRON)--The arraignment has been continued to May 31 for Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man accused in the kidnapping and murder of missing Morgan Hill cheerleader Sierra Lamar.
Garcia-Torres made a brief court appearance Thursday with members of his family in attendance. KRON 4's Rob Fladeboe reports that Garcia-Torres appeared for about one minute before a judge decided to have the arraignment continued to the end of the month. 
Garcia-Torres was arrested late Monday on suspicion of murder and kidnapping of Sierra, whose disappearance more than two months ago prompted hundreds of volunteers to turn out for organized searches led by the KlaasKids Foundation.
Sierra hasn't been seen or heard from since she left her home in Morgan Hill to go to school on March 16. Authorities believe she was kidnapped while walking to a bus stop.
Prosecutors were expected to release Thursday the criminal complaint and probable cause statement to the public that could provide the most detailed list yet of the evidence against the 21-year suspect.
"Detectives believe that the evidence they have in this case is strong," Sgt. Jose Cardoza tells KRON 4's Haaziq Madyun.  "It points to him and only to him as the primary suspect in this case.  The main components we have are her bag and inside that bag are numerous items.  What that yielded was Garcia-Torres' DNA on some of Sierra's property that was located a couple of days after she went missing."
Sgt. Cardoza discounts the defendant's family and neighbors, most of whom say they don't believe the charges against him.
"I don't think he's capable at all of doing something like that," the defendant's sister, Alondra Garcia-Torres tells KRON 4's Maureen Kelly.  "I don't really see him as that violent, you know.  He's pretty mellow.  He's not a violent guy at all.    He likes fishing.  He likes doing outdoor things.  He's with his family a lot.  He's a hard worker who works a lot.  I don't think they have enough proof yet.  I think he's innocent.  What I have in my mind is 'innocent until proven guilty' and fully proven, you know."
Neighbors at Maple Leaf RV Park where the Garcia-Torres family live, describe the suspect as "quiet" and say he keeps to himself.
Many also question what motive he would have had for harming Sierra who was last seen March 16th when she was supposed to catch the bus to school. 
"As far as the motive goes, only Mr. Garcia-Torres would know that," Sgt. Cardoza adds.  "When investigators asked him about Sierra Lamar and where she could be or her whereabouts, he declined to provide any information."
Sierra's mother says she's not giving up hope the girl will be found alive despite the murder charge.  
Search and rescue crews are now using more powerful side-scanning sonar to search Uvas Reservoir for Sierra's remains or any other evidence that might be in the water.
"The detectives were pretty clear that they didn't just want us to look for one thing, they wanted us to keep our minds on anything that might be associated with the case," Sgt. Don Ray with the search and rescue team tells KRON 4's Rob Fladeboe.  "We're looking everywhere in the reservoir just in case something might have moved.  Something might have gone in near the shore but since have moved."
Stay tuned to KRON 4 and KRON4.com for complete coverage and legal analysis of what we will learn at the hearing and from the documents prosecutors will release.
(Copyright 2012, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)
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