The lead county prosecutor said Thursday that his office could prove murder charges without a body and that the crime is eligible for the death penalty, but he had not decided whether to pursue it.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen held a small news conference outside the courthouse to address reporters' questions. He also released a statement of facts related to the case to the media, which detailed information about the crime.
Rosen said his prosecutor will prove that Garcia-Torres killed Sierra in the courtroom in front of a jury with facts, even though her body has not been found.
As for the death penalty, "We will decide after reviewing evidence, speaking to the family" and considering other factors before deciding to pursue it, Rosen said.
"Sierra never got on her bus that morning, she never made it to school that day, and she was not home when her mother returned from work that day, which was unsual because Sierra was routinely home before her mother," the statement said about the day the girl disappeared.
Garcia-Torres lived about seven miles from Sierra's home and drove a 1998 Volkswagon Jetta and criminalists located DNA foreign to Garcia Torres within the car and found "a strong association between that foreign DNA and the DNA profile of Sierra LaMar," the statement added.
Since March 28, Garcia Torres had been under surveillance "and he has not led investigators to Sierra's location ... There is no evidence that Antolin Garcia-Torres and Sierra LaMar knew each other, or had friends in common. The evidence establishes probable cause to believe that Sierra LaMar was forcibly kidnapped and murdered by Antolin Garcia Torres," the statement continued.
Rosen said the investigation into Sierra's disappereance is continuing and authorities are "carefully and painstakingly going through all of the evidence that we have thus far.
"We will do everything in our power to seek the truth and to seek justice for Sierra LaMar," Rosen said.
Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney David Boyd has been assigned as the prosecutor on the case, which Rosen promised to pursue with diligence at his office, crime laboratory and in the courtroom.
He asked media representatives who will be covering the case to "respect the often silent part of the process. We hope that you will respect the fact that we as prosecutors have taken an oath to protect the constitutional rights of all defendants, including this defendant (Garcia-Torres)."
Rosen said his office will "aggressively seek justice" and explained the charge of murder under special circumstances with kidnapping is a death penalty eligible charge, but the DA's office has a protocol in making a decision as to whether to seek the capital punishment, which will be done after reviewing all of the evidence on the case and speaking with the victim's family and go through aspects of the defendant's life to inform their decision and with Garcia-Torres' attorney's input. "This process will take some period of time," Rosen said.
Rosen also said his office and the Sheriff's Office have a good working relationship and have been workign together since the beginning of the investigation sharing information along with state and federal law enforcement officials and also volunteers who have given much of their time to the case as they searched for Sierra.
For previous coverage of the Sierra LaMar case, refer to the Sierra LaMar Disappearance: Comprehensive Updates and Information page on Gilroy Patch.