SAN JOSE -- Nearly two years after his May 2012 arrest in the kidnapping and killing of 15-year-old Sierra LaMar, Antolin Garcia-Torres was indicted Tuesday for the crime by a Santa Clara County Superior Court grand jury.

In addition to the killing of the young Morgan Hill resident, Garcia-Torres was indicted for a series of violent attacks on South Bay women in 2009, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday.

The indictment means he will now go directly to trial instead of face a preliminary hearing, the more common procedure of laying out the evidence. Before a case can go to trial, state law requires felony charges to be reviewed either in a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury. Now, the case can move forward without Garcia-Torres entering a plea, which his defense attorneys have put off in numerous court appearances since his arrest on May 21, 2012, about two months after Sierra's disappearance on a foggy March morning.

In a statement, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said his office took the case to the grand jury "to expedite the lengthy criminal process, which began almost two years ago.

"Sierra's family, the surviving victims and our entire community deserves justice," he said.

Prosecutor David Boyd said that while taking a case to the grand jury is "rare by volume, in a case of this type it's not as uncommon."

Marc Klaas, whose own daughter Polly was abducted and murdered more than two decades ago, has worked closely with Sierra's family in searching for the teen, whose body has never been found despite repeated expeditions by professionals and a dedicated cadre of volunteers.


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Klaas called news of the indictment "wonderful, finally the wheels of justice are turning" but quickly added that it has taken far too long to move forward.

"I really think it's a travesty that this guy has survived so long in a jail cell after people have been aware of what he has done," said Klaas, who runs the KlaasKids Foundation. "This has been horrible for Sierra's family. They don't know where Sierra is. Their daughter, their sister has been missing almost two years while the guy who committed the crime sits in a jail cell and gets fed."

Garcia-Torres, 22, will be arraigned Thursday at 1:30 p.m.

Boyd said the previously filed charges will be dismissed in favor of those brought forth by the grand jury, but they are the same: Kidnapping with the special circumstance of murder in Sierra's case, and attempted kidnapping and carjacking of three women in the 2009 incidents.

After Garcia-Torres is arraigned, prosecutors will ask that the case be set for trial. Boyd did not know how long that might take because of the magnitude of the case.

"When you get something that's going to take this long, and is this involved and this serious," he said, "you want to pick a trial date that's fair to the victims but also accommodates other parties so everyone gets a fair say in court, whether it's the district attorney or defense."

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.