SAN FRANCISCO -- A Santa Clara County criminal grand jury has handed down a murder indictment in connection with missing Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar.
Santa Clara County District Atty. Jeff Rosen disclosed the Superior Court grand jury’s indictment against 22-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres on Tuesday. It comes nearly two years after Sierra, a vibrant cheerleader, disappeared near her Morgan Hill home while on her way to school.
She was 15 at the time. She is presumed dead, although her body has not been found.
The day after her March 16, 2012, disappearance, deputies found Sierra’s cellphone lying near a road less than a mile from her home. The next day, her black and pink Juicy Couture purse turned up -- with her underwear and San Jose Sharks jersey folded neatly inside.
Physical evidence linked Garcia-Torres and his vehicle to the case and he was arrested in May 2012 and charged with her murder. However, on the advice of his defense attorney, he has repeatedly declined to enter a plea.
He will now proceed directly to trial without a preliminary hearing and without having to enter a plea. The grand jury also indicted Garcia-Torres in connection with violent attacks on South Bay women in 2009.
“The District Attorney’s Office took this case to the criminal grand jury to expedite the lengthy criminal process, which began almost two years ago,” Rosen said in a news release. “Sierra’s family, the surviving victims, and our entire community, deserves justice.”
Garcia-Torres is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.
Sierra’s disappearance triggered a massive community search, and the families of a number of other high-profile victims who disappeared participated.