Closing arguments in the Sierra LaMar murder trial began in a packed courtroom in San Jose Tuesday morning following three months of witness testimony from prosecutors and defense attorneys for Antolin Garcia-Torres, the 26-year-old man charged with the 15-year-old’s 2012 murder.
Santa Clara County prosecutor David Boyd argued for six hours, rehashing for the jury the main points of the trial, the timeline of what he alleges were Sierra’s final hours on March 16, 2012, evidence presented by numerous witnesses and the arguments that he expected the defense to make on Wednesday.
Boyd began his closing arguments with an echo of how he started his opening statement in late January:
“Sierra LaMar is dead, and this defendant right here kidnapped and killed her. … He silenced her so she couldn’t say what he did to her. He silenced the story that the body would tell by making sure it would never be found.”
Boyd repeatedly connected Sierra’s alleged murder to the three attempted kidnappings of women in Safeway parking lots three years before with which Garcia-Torres is also charged, reasoning that the crimes were similar in nature.
But by 2012, Garcia-Torres had learned to target a more vulnerable victim, Boyd said, highlighting Sierra’s age and petite frame of 5 foot 1 and 105 pounds.
At 15, Sierra was less likely to fight back than the women Garcia-Torres allegedly attacked in 2009, Boyd said.
Boyd repeatedly told the jury that Garcia-Torres has “no alibi” for the almost six hours between the time his 1998 red Volkswagen Jetta was seen on security footage leaving the Maple Leaf RV Park in Morgan Hill and when he was seen again at 12:47 p.m.
“That gives the defendant a lot of time for which he has no alibi.”
Boyd attacked the idea that Sierra would have run away from home, pointing to testimony from friends, family and a therapist who she saw twice in the weeks before her disappearance.
None of that testimony has indicated any serious desire to run away, Boyd said, pointing to Garcia-Torres:
“She didn’t abandon that life. It was taken from her by this man right here, on March 16, 2012.”
The defense has also pointed to faulty evidence collection techniques by investigators, claiming that cross-contamination led to Garcia-Torres’ DNA turning up on Sierra’s clothing and Sierra’s DNA being found in his car.
Boyd conceded that some of the DNA analysis on Sierra’s clothing, which was found in a field along with her inhaler and other personal items, was performed in the back of an RV by an investigator who wore gloves, but skipped other precautions, but argued that that does not explain how Garcia-Torres’ DNA would have been introduced.
DNA on the work gloves found in the trunk of Garcia-Torres’ car were found to be 340 trillion times more likely to be connected to Sierra, Garcia-Torres and his ex-girlfriend Francine Sarmiento than Garcia-Torres, Sarmiento and a third person, Boyd said.
Boyd is set to continue his closing argument on Wednesday morning.