A defense attorney for the man charged with the 2012 murder of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar gave his closing argument in a San Jose courtroom Wednesday, following a seven-hour argument from the prosecutor that began Tuesday morning.
Antolin Garcia-Torres, 26, could face the death penalty if convicted by the jurors who have spent the last three months hearing extensive witness testimony on the five-year-old case.
Defense attorney Al Lopez accused prosecutors of distracting the jury with “shame evidence” and then presented his “top 10 reasons” for the lack of evidence that Sierra is dead, a key question in the no-body case.
Lopez cited that in the Bank of America security video where Garcia-Torres is seen on March 16, 2012, the day Sierra went missing, he looked calm and uninjured.
On Tuesday, prosecutor David Boyd pointed to the dirt appearing on Garcia-Torres’ pants in the video as a sign of the alleged violent struggle and visit to a remote location where he likely hid LaMar’s 105-pound body.
Investigators found no evidence that Garcia-Torres had the tools, like a shovel, needed to hide Sierra’s body, Lopez said.
A key part of the prosecution’s case is the DNA evidence linking Sierra to a pair of work gloves and a rope in the trunk of Garcia-Torres’ car.
Sierra’s clothes, including the jeans that were found to have Garcia-Torres’ DNA on them, were found in a field near her house shortly after her disappearance. Lopez questioned why, if Garcia-Torres was able to hide her body so well, he would not have done the same with her belongings.
“That looks staged,” Lopez said, implying that Sierra could have run away or is being held against her will.
Lopez also questioned why Garcia-Torres would have targeted Sierra, a stranger, and why there has been no statement of guilt or any eyewitnesses to the struggle.
Lopez asked the jury where the murder weapon or crime scene were, questioning the validity of a murder case with no blood evidence or cause of death, claiming there was “no evidence she was killed, no evidence of when she was killed.” The prosecutors are “throwing it out there, hoping we get angry,” Lopez argued.
The defense attorney also noted that Sierra’s clothes showed no evidence of violence, like rips, broken zippers, stun gun burns or bleach stains.
Prosecutors have argued that Sierra’s jeans had dirt stains consistent with being dragged.
Lopez pointed to the fact that Sierra’s body has not been found as the most significant reason his client should be found innocent.
“That’s the heart of this case,” Lopez said, bringing up what prosecutors have dismissed as a baseless runaway theory, but that the defense has tied to Sierra’s alleged unhappiness over her family’s recent move and bicurious feelings.
“She was in a broken home. She wanted to run away.”
Boyd will present the prosecution’s rebuttal on Thursday morning.