Fifteen-year-old Sierra LaMar is still missing, presumed dead at the hands of 21-year-old Antolin Garcia-Torres. Detectives on the case claim to have enough evidence to indicate that the Morgan Hill teenager was abducted and murdered by the man -- even without the presence of a body or partial remains. One criminologist thinks the suspect may eventually walk free, but is his analysis of the case accurate? Does he have all the details with which to draw such conclusions?
Criminologist Steve Clark is an attorney and analyst who comments on high profile cases with quite a few years of experience under his belt. He's surely an expert and his opinion is more than respected -- as it very well should be. However, does he have all of the evidence that is known about in this case? Is he privy to the details that the prosecution/detectives have gathered against Antolin Garcia-Torres?
Officials acknowledge that they found DNA belonging to Sierra Lamar in the car driven by Garcia-Torres, and they found his DNA in the clothing and bag belonging to the missing cheerleader that was discovered early on in the search for her. There have been quite a few questions regarding their arrest of Torres, mostly pertaining to whether or not they have enough evidence against him. Discussion boards, comment sections on articles and social networks are abuzz with discussion pertaining to this very high profile case, so it's to be expected that there is a little division.
The kidnapping charge has been added against Garcia-Torres as a "special circumstance" as a sort of afterthought of the murder. This in and of itself is extremely questionable and Clark is absolutely right to question this. He believes the prosecution is essentially setting itself up for failure, and he agrees with Garcia-Torres's decision to waive his right to a speedy trial and plea.
"Because there's only one count, which is murder, they've alleged the kidnapping as a special circumstance, but it's not an independent count at this point, so if they don't believe he killed her but they believe he kidnapped her, then he would be found not guilty [of murder] and I don't believe they can retry him again," he said.
This is basically the same thing that happened in the Casey Anthony trial last year, in case some of you don't remember. The prosecution went after her rabidly in a capital murder case but did not bother going after her for any of the other charges that she could have been guilty of committing. While the jury was unable to convict her of first degree capital murder, Casey Anthony could have been convicted of child neglect leading to death, child abuse or any other combination of charges. The failure on behalf of the prosecution led to her walking free. The same could happen with the trial regarding the disappearance and murder of Sierra LaMar.
Hopefully the prosecution has a plan and knows precisely how to handle this.
Crime analyst and profiler Chelsea Hoffman can be found on The Huffington Post, Chelsea Hoffman: Case to Case and many other outlets. Follow @TheRealChelseaHon Twitter or click here to contact Chelseadirectly.