The man accused of kidnapping and murdering 15-year-old Sierra LaMar didn't appear at his court hearing Tuesday and his case was continued until Aug. 29. But that didn't stop more than a dozen volunteers who are continuing to search for her from showing up to show their support for the LaMar family.
They started in the courtroom hallway, holding hands in a circle, bowing their heads and praying.
"We'd like to see Sierra come home and justice served," said Tina Ingenthron of Morgan Hill, who lives close to Sierra's home south of Bailey Road. "It's important to keep the awareness out there. Until she is found, the family needs support and we need volunteers helping because if it were their child, they'd want the
Antolin Garcia Torres, 21, who waived his right to appear in court Tuesday, is charged with murder with the special circumstance of kidnap, which makes him eligible for the death penalty. The decision, which involves a study committee and is likely months away, will be up to District Attorney Jeff Rosen.
The Morgan Hill suspect, who lived in a trailer park seven miles from Sierra's home, is being held without bail in Santa Clara County jail.
Some of his friends and relatives filled a row in the courtroom, but declined to talk to reporters.
Sierra disappeared March 16 on her way to her school bus stop in a rural area just north of Morgan Hill. Since then, thousands of volunteers have rallied to the aid of the
Although her body hasn't been found, authorities have said they believe she is dead. The day after her disappearance, her cellphone was located in a field less than a mile from her home. A day after that, her purse, school books and clothing were found near a shed in a field less than two miles from her home.
"All of her known personal belongings, including her asthma inhaler, her money, her house keys and the clothing she was wearing the morning of her disappearance, have been located," according to a statement of facts released by the sheriff's office.
Two weeks after she vanished, the county crime lab told investigators they detected the DNA of Garcia Torres on Sierra's discarded clothing, and also found Sierra's DNA in Garcia Torres' Volkswagen Jetta.
Investigators trailed Garcia Torres for weeks, hoping he would lead them to her whereabouts. He never did. They arrested him in late May in front of a Safeway store in Morgan Hill where he once worked and where police believe he might have been involved in past parking lot assaults. At the time, he was living with his mother, pregnant wife and young daughter in a trailer park.
Volunteers still search every Wednesday and Saturday to try to find any clues and give hope to her family.
Contact Julia Prodis Sulek at 408-278-3409.