South Bay News
Police: Garcia-Torres linked to 2009 Morgan Hill assault
raw video: News conference regarding Sierra LaMar
MORGAN HILL, Calif. (KGO) -- The man accused of kidnapping and murdering Sierra LaMar is a young father with a baby on the way. Twenty-one-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres was arrested Monday night in the parking lot of a Morgan Hill Safeway where he used to work.
In 2009, he was arrested for resisting arrest when Morgan Hill police made a probation check on his brother-in-law. Then, in 2010, he was arrested for battery and sex with a minor, but those charges were later dismissed.
Garcia-Torres' mother, Laura Torres, believes her son is innocent. Asked if he ever told her he was involved with anything related to Sierra's case, she replied, "No. He say [sic] that it was a surprise for him, too. He say [sic] that he never see the girl."
But his arrest Monday night at a Morgan Hill Safeway parking lot should have come as no surprise to the 21-year-old. It was the culmination of months of investigation and surveillance by sheriff's investigators. Torres says they even put a tracking device on both their cars.
"Antolin find one in my car, too," she said. "That's why they know where [he's] going and everything."
Torres spoke to her son last night after his arrest. She says he spoke only about his child Emily. "I need you [to] be strong because I need your help. I need you taking care of my kids. Emily. Don't let Emily alone," she recalled her son saying.
Sheriff's deputies even searched the mobile home where Garcia-Torres, his wife, their 19-month-old child and his mother live. He lives about seven and a half miles from Sierra's home.
ABC7 News spoke with his sister, Lucero Garcia, who said he had been cooperating with investigators. "It's a shocker to all of us. He of course didn't do it. I know everybody says that, but I know him. I know he didn't do it. He's not capable of that. There's no motive," she said.
Garcia says the sheriff's case against her brother just doesn't add up. She says he is not a violent person and that he didn't know Sierra. "He's sweet, he's not... he has a baby on the way. He has a 1-and-a-half-year-old. They're very happy. There's no motive for him to be doing any of this. It's a mistake I feel."
Garcia believes investigators zeroed in on her brother simply because his car was spotted in Sierra's neighborhood. She says her whole family knew he was under surveillance and that her brother has cooperated with police. She says a guilty man would have acted differently. "You would think that he would, I don't know, go away or try to run away or something. He's been nothing but compliant with the police. He's given them two DNA swabs."
Morgan Hill police tell ABC7 News that Garcia-Torres' arrest has now re-opened three assault cases at the two Safeways in Morgan Hill three years ago. In one incident, the suspect used a stun gun. In another, he used a knife. Police say Garcia-Torres' DNA links him to at least one of the attacks. At the time, police released a sketch of the suspect in which the resemblance to Torres is uncanny. The family doesn't believe he committed those previous assaults.
missing person, santa clara county, morgan hill, sierra lamar, south bay news
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