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After Long Delays, Sierra LaMar Murder Trial Finally Begins

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) -- Almost five years after the disappearance of Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar, on Monday opening statements were given in the murder trial of the man accused of kidnapping and killing her.

The trial for Antolin Garcia-Torres, the man charged in the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old LaMar, was scheduled to begin on January 18. It was postponed until January 30 after the defense requested a continuance to review additional lab reports that weren't made available until earlier this month.

Garcia-Torres has pleaded not guilty in the case.

Mark Klaas, whose daughter Polly was kidnapped from her Petaluma home in 1993 and killed, accompanied Sierra's family on the first day of the trial.

"They need to find some sense of closure in this phase of the situation," said Klaas. "They need to have this guy brought to justice one way or another."

The jurors -- six men and six women – received instructions from the judge earlier in the day prior to opening arguments. Jurors will have the ability to submit their own questions at the conclusion of each witnesses' testimony during the trial.

The prosecution then proceeded with its opening remarks.

Opening statement at Antolin Garcia-Torres murder trial
Opening statement at Antolin Garcia-Torres murder trial (sketch by Vicki Behringer)

"Sierra Lamar is dead and that man killed her," the prosecutor David Boyd said, gesturing toward the defendant Garcia-Torres during his opening statement.

Supporters of Sierra LaMar in the courtroom were visibly upset when prosecutors played the tearful 911 call made by the teen's mother on the day her daughter disappeared.

"They're now faced with the prospect of sitting in a courtroom for two months listening to people talk about the last hours of their daughter's life," said Klaas.

Prosecutors said DNA from LaMar, the defendant and a third unknown individual was found on the pants she was wearing when she disappeared.

DNA results are expected to play a significant role in the case, as Sierra's DNA was found in Garcia-Torres' red Volkswagen Jetta in May 2012, two months after her disappearance.

But KPIX 5 legal analyst Judge LaDoris Cordell said the defense is likely to attack the DNA evidence as less than definitive.

"It still leaves wiggle room for the defense who will ask, 'Aren't there other people whose DNA is consistent with what you found?'" explained Cordell.

Sierra was last seen leaving for school from her home in unincorporated Morgan Hill on March 16, 2012. She did not show up to her bus stop that morning, and her body has never been found.

The teenager's cellphone was found in a field south of San Jose and her Juicy purse and clothes were found two days after she went missing.

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