Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Monday, March 16, 2015


           On this date, March 16, 2012, 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, went missing in California.

We, the comrades of Unit 1012: The VFFDP, will make her one of The 82 murdered children of Unit 1012, where we will not forget her every year on March 16 and October 19. Let us remember how she lived and not how she died. We will always support her family members.

We want to thank those good people who showed support to Sierra’s family by helping them search for her. We will not forget her. 

Sierra LaMar (October 19, 1996 to March 16, 2012)

California man charged in murder of Sierra LaMar to face death: district attorney 

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced their decision against Antolin Garcia-Torres on Monday. He's charged in the 2012 abduction and murder of the 15-year-old, as well as the attempted kidnapping of three others in 2009.

Monday, May 19, 2014, 8:25 PM

Sierra LaMar (October 19, 1996 to March 16, 2012)
Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty against a California man charged with kidnapping and murdering a 15-year-old, whose body has not been found.

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office announced their decision Monday against Antolin Garcia-Torres, who's charged in the abduction of Sierra LaMar in 2012.

"Given the facts of this case and after a comprehensive review by a committee of senior prosecutors, I have concluded that this defendant should face the ultimate penalty," District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a release.

"He took her away from us," Sierra's father, Steve LaMar, reacted to the DA’s decision to NBC Bay Area. "She isn't here to enjoy her life. We agree he should receive the ultimate punishment."

Garcia-Torres, a former grocery store clerk, is additionally charged in attempting to kidnap three women during attempted carjackings in 2009.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges filed against him in February.

The district attorney declined to provide further comment on the case, not wanting to affect the upcoming trial.

Sierra vanished on the morning of March 16, 2012, while walking to her school bus stop near Morgan Hill, Calif.

Authorities said in 2012 that Sierra's DNA was found in Garcia-Torres' Volkswagen Jetta.

Despite it being now more than two years since she was last seen, her family and surrounding community haven't given up hope, with a Sierra LaMar Search Fund actively working to bring her home.

DA Seeks Death Penalty in Sierra LaMar Case

ByLisa Fernandez and Marianne Favro

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man charged with kidnapping and murdering teenager Sierra LaMar, the Santa Clara County District Attorney announced Monday. Marianne Favro reports. (Published Monday, May 19, 2014) 

Updated at 3:55 AM PDT on Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Sierra LaMar (October 19, 1996 to March 16, 2012)
Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man charged with kidnapping and murdering teenager Sierra LaMar, the Santa Clara County District Attorney announced Monday

Images From the Sierra LaMar Case

"He took her away from us," Sierra's father, Steve LaMar told NBC Bay Area, acknowledging that the decision could add more years to the legal drama. "She isn't here to enjoy her life. We agree he should receive the ultimate punishment."

Torres' alternate defender, David Epps, told NBC Bay Area in an email that he and co-counsel, Al Lopez, are "extremely disappointed" Rosen is seeking the death penalty, saying that the "circumstances of the case and the criminal record" of their client don't appear to rise the level of capital punishment.
"As everyone is aware, there are serious issues with the administration of the death penalty not only here in California but around the nation," Epps wrote. " Since 1973, 112 death row inmates have been exonerated.  We have always viewed this as a missing person case not a homicide.”

Rosen sent a letter to Santa Clara County Presiding Judge Thang N. Barrett (PDF) on Monday informing him of his decision - the first time his office has sought capital punishment since being elected in 2010. 

"Given the facts of this case and after a comprehensive review...I have concluded that this defendant should face the ultimate penalty," Rosen said in a statement. Rosen declined to say more, adding that he did not want to taint the jury pool.

Sierra was last seen at her bus stop in Morgan Hill on March 16, 2012. Her abduction deeply affected the Bay Area, especially because the 15-year-old girl's body has never been found. Volunteers continue to search for her remains, even two years after her disappearance and assumed death.

Her father told NBC Bay Area in March that it's been an extremely "frustrating" two years, both in terms of not knowing what happened to his daughter, and because the court process has taken so long.
Garcia-Torres, a one-time grocery clerk, pleaded not guilty in February 2014. He was formally indicted by a criminal grand jury that week of three counts of attempted kidnapping and carjacking for three separate crimes in 2009 outside South Bay supermarkets, as well as the Sierra's murder and kidnap.

The last time a Santa Clara County jury decided to put a man to death was in 2010. In fact, there were two cases that year. Juries found that both Rodrigo Paniagua Jr. should be sentenced to death for stabbing his pregnant girlfriend and young daughters, before setting him on fire. A jury also decided to execute Melvin Forte in that same year for kidnapping, raping and murdering a 23-year-old German woman, Ines Sailer.

Before that, a Santa Clara County jury hadn't  come back with a positive death penalty since 1997.
Legal Analyst Steven Clark said the DA's decision to seek the death penalty against Garcia-Torres means it could now be years before the case goes to trial.
“I am surprised by the DA's decision,” Clark said. “There is no body and no evidence of trauma or a crime scene.”

For his part, LaMar said he is aware he and his family will have to wait even longer now, but he says he still feels it is important to pursue the death penalty for the man accused of murdering his daughter.

Published at 9:40 AM PDT on May 19, 2014

Sierra LaMar's Father: "Not Knowing What Happened" Is Most Frustrating After 2 Years

ByRiya Bhattacharjee and Marianne Favro

Two years after Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar was last seen near the bus stop near her home, the search to find her continues. (Published Friday, Mar 14, 2014)

Updated at 6:36 AM PDT on Monday, Mar 17, 2014 

Sierra LaMar (October 19, 1996 to March 16, 2012)
Two years after Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar was last seen near the bus stop near her home, the search to find her continues.

Friends, family and even strangers have volunteered – and continue to volunteer – their time to bring Sierra home, hopeful that she is still alive. But it hasn’t been easy, especially for the LaMars.

Sierra’s father Steve LaMar, spoke with NBC Bay Area about his daughter and how the family is holding up two years after the disappearance.

“I am doing OK, it’s tough, especially at this time. It’s been very frustrating two years – we haven’t really found anything with the searches but we are still doing that,” Steve LaMar said.
LaMar described the length of the court process as “frustrating.”
“We were warned of that but it’s still frustrating,” he said, adding that the district attorney’s office had warned the family that high-profile murder cases could drag on for years. 

Twenty-two-year-old former supermarket employee Antolin Garcia-Torres was charged with Sierra’s kidnapping and murder and is currently in Santa Clara Jail. Garcia-Torres pleaded not guilty in February. 
But the toughest part for the LaMars has probably been missing Sierra, and still not having any answers, LaMar said.

“Knowing that someone does know [what happened to Sierra] kind of makes it more frustrating,” he said.
Birthdays and family celebrations have been especially tough, LaMar said. Even though it has been two years since the disappearance, things have not gotten easier.

LaMar described his daughter as a fun loving, well-loved teenager with a big heart.

“She’s kinda goofy around her friends,” he said. "We’d joke around with her – she’d make fun of my quirks and music and I’d make fun of her quirks and music.”

LaMar said he and Sierra would often go watch animated movies like “Toy Story” together at the theater. “Because that’s what we both liked,” he said.

When the family receives news that investigators have received new tips on the case – recently divers reportedly searched a South Bay lake for evidence in the case – LaMar described the feeling as both “nervous and positive.”

“It’s still priority for the sheriff’s department and they are still doing that, so that’s positive,” he said. 

“But, yeah, any time something like that happens it makes me a little nervous. We don’t want them to find anything, really.”

LaMar said part of him really wants to believe that Sierra was kidnapped and is still alive.

“I am sticking with that until something happens.”

When asked whether he has any doubt that Garcia-Torres was involved, LaMar said, “he definitely knows something.”
“I think I’ll leave it at that and let the courts proceed,” he said. “I have faith and confidence in it even though it’s frustrating. I still have faith and confidence that we’ll have some answers and some justice in all this.”

LaMar said that the family has never gone to court to see Garcia-Torres during his preliminary appearances. “It’s a personal decision – I’ve talked about it with my family and pretty much all of us are not inclined to go until it’s necessary or basically until when the trial begins.”

When asked whether he had a message for Garcia-Torres, LaMar said “No.”

His message to the public: “Just keep hoping and help us to search for her.”

A dedicated group of about 25 volunteers still meets on Saturdays to search for Sierra in the Morgan Hill area.

Published at 3:34 PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

Friends to Dedicate Memorial Bench Honoring Missing Teen Sierra LaMar


Updated at 11:55 PM PDT on Friday, Mar 14, 2014

A new bench honoring Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar will be dedicated at a school she once attended in Fremont on Sunday to mark the two-year anniversary of her disappearance.

The circular bench wraps around a tree on the campus of Washington High School in Fremont, where Sierra spent her freshman and part of her sophomore years before moving to Morgan Hill, said Nittra Foreman, whose daughter was a close friend of Sierra's.

Sierra LaMar Investigator Hopes Suspect "Finds God"

Friends of 15-year-old Sierra, who vanished outside her home near Morgan Hill on March 16, 2012, wanted to dedicate the bench at Washington in her memory because it would have been her last year of high school, Foreman said.

"That's why it's appropriate to do it this year, it's for her senior class," Foreman said.

Sierra LaMar's Father: "Not Knowing What Happened" is Most Frustrating After 2 Years

Nancee Reck, who was Sierra's attendance clerk at Washington and supervised her while a yard duty supervisor at Parkmont Elementary School in Fremont, said she still fights back emotions when thinking about her.
"I'm going to cry..." Reck said. "She was a lovely little girl, a little spitfire. She was just a tiny little thing, but her personality overshadowed her size. Just a lovely little girl."

The ceremony dedicating the five-corner bench for Sierra is to begin at 11 a.m. Sunday in the center of the high school campus at 38442 Fremont Boulevard.

Golden State Lumber of Newark donated the materials for the bench and Fremont-based Malpede Construction paid to build it, Foreman said.

A plaque that Foreman donated to be placed on the bench includes an inviting message that makes reference to Washington's school mascot, the Huskies.

"Sit here with me quietly, you'll never be alone. We wait to see your smile again, and have our Husky Home," the plaque reads.

The rest of the inscription reads, "Dedicated to Sierra LaMar and the memory of all missing children. 3-16-14."

Though Sierra is believed dead by police and prosecutors, volunteers have conducted more than 500 searches for her body in Morgan Hill and elsewhere in southern Santa Clara County since 2012 and some still meet to search for her each Saturday.

Antolin Garcia-Torres, 22, a former Morgan Hill resident, has been in the Santa Clara County Main Jail since his arrest in her kidnapping and murder on May 21, 2012. He pleaded not guilty to the charges this past Feb. 13.

Prosecutors in the case believe that as Sierra walked to catch a bus for school, Garcia-Torres killed her after luring her into his red VW Jetta car, where sheriff's deputies claimed to have located evidence of the girl's DNA.

Foreman's daughter Channah was good friends with Sierra, who had attended Channah's March 10 birthday and signed her birthday card less than a week before Sierra disappeared, Foreman said.

The day Sierra was last seen was a Friday, and she was supposed to arrive later in the day for another of many overnight stays with Channah at the Foreman house, she said.

When Sierra did not come home from school, the girl's mother Marlene called Foreman at work to ask if Sierra was at Foreman's home in Fremont, she said.

"I said, 'I'm pretty sure she is not there -- I think you should call 911,'" Foreman said she replied.
Foreman then got into a car and drove to her Fremont home to see for herself that Sierra was not there with Channah, she said.
"She was really cheerful," Foreman said of Sierra. "I really liked her. She always wanted to learn, a kind who always asked questions, very outgoing. Others may think she was shy, but I don't think so."

Roger Nelson, a Gilroy resident who is a volunteer coordinator at the Sierra Search Center, the headquarters for search efforts in Morgan Hill, said he was going through a "range of emotions" leading up to the two-year anniversary.

"Everyone of us wants to bring Sierra home to her family, to bring closure to her family," Nelson said.
The frustration volunteers felt with the legal system throughout 2012 and 2013, waiting for Garcia-Torres to enter a plea after many delays, largely subsided after the defendant was indicted by a grand jury and made his plea last month, Nelson said.

"We have an exceptional group of volunteers who put up with ticks, poison oak, rattlesnakes" during searches for the girl, Nelson said. "I think people are very committed."

Published at 7:04 PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

Sierra LaMar (October 19, 1996 to March 16, 2012)

No comments:

Post a Comment