Man spared death penalty in murder, kidnapping of California teen Sierra LaMar

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The man convicted of murder in the death of Morgan Hill teenager Sierra LaMar has been spared his life. The same jury that convicted Antolin Garcia-Torres, 26, recommended Monday the appropriate sentence is life in prison without parole. It could have imposed the death penalty.

During a press conference, Sierra's father spoke saying: "I would be lying if I didn't say I am disappointed in the verdict. He'll be able to live, Sierra won't. He'll be able to breathe. Sierra doesn't. He'll be able to eat everyday, see his family, and we don't have that," Steve LaMar said.

FULL VIDEO: Officials discuss sentencing for Antolin Garcia-Torres in Sierra LaMar murder case
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Officials spoke during a press conference Monday after Antolin Garcia-Torres was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Morgan Hill teen Sierra LaMar.

Garcia-Torres was found guilty of kidnapping and killing 15-year-old LaMar, who disappeared near her Morgan Hill home on her way to school on March 16, 2012. Her cell phone and clothing were found in the days after, but her body has never been found, despite an army of volunteers conducting searches that continue to today. Garcia-Torres never testified on his behalf during the 13-week long murder trial.

Defense attorneys had argued for the lesser penalty, suggesting that Garcia-Torres might have been exposed to pesticides while growing up in semi-rural San Martin. It was also argued that he grew up in a troubled family.

The prosecution had asked the jury for the death penalty to fit the nature of the crime.

The penalty phase of the trial began May 16, a week after Garcia-Torres was found guilty of the missing teen's murder on March 16, 2012.

Garcia-Torres was arrested two months after LaMar's disappearance when his DNA was found on her clothing, which was recovered in a field near her bus stop.

During the penalty phase of the trial, Garcia-Torres' mother, sister and cousins testified about the poverty, abuse, incest, neglect, loss, incarceration and addiction that have afflicted the defendant and his family throughout his life.

The defense presented the mitigating evidence in order to evoke sympathy for Garcia-Torres, but was not legally allowed to present it as an explanation for the crimes committed.

Bay City News contributed to this story.
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