No legal system is perfect. It’s as obvious as we are all fallible human beings. But sometimes incompetent prosecutors are caught up with something other than the crime-and-punishment principle. Prejudice, greed, or other unforeseen elements could factor in resulting in the wrong conclusion that would eventually lead to innocent death.
Our legal system aims therefore to avert such grievous consequences to the point of embracing the possibility of letting go of criminals, if that helps ensure no innocent conviction.
But crime evolves and its tenacity seems also growing in an exponential proportion. Criminals are cunning and ever manipulative as modern legal system is rigorously subject to the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”.
As a result, prosecutors have toughened up lately. Recently it is reported that a prosecutor is seeking death penalty in a case where the victim’s body has not been found.
Jeff Rosen, a Santa Clara County District Attorney, confirms that Antolin Garcia-Torres will be charged with kidnapping and murder of a 15-year-old Sierra LaMar who disappeared in 2012.
Garcia-Torres has already pleaded not guilty, and his attorney asserts that the case is still a missing case not a homicide.
David W. Epps from the Alternate Defender Office expresses disappointment with the District Office’s handling of the case while Sierra’s family supports Rosen’s decision.
Sierra was last seen as leaving home for school. Her belongs such as clothing, books and purse were found about 2 miles away from her home on March 18, 2012. According to the authorities, Sierra’s DNA was found in Garcia-Torres’ car and his DNA also was found in her handbag while Sierra had no acquaintance with Garcia-Torres.
The evidences strongly points at Garcia-Torres’ involvement in the crime. The circumstantial evidence seemingly justifies Rosen’s decision of death penalty.
However, in all likelihood and probable hypotheses, death penalty in this case appears premature.
Our common sense based on circumstantial evidences compels us to see Sierra’s case as a homicide. But still without the body of the victim, it would be egregiously arrogant to assume or pretend that we were there and witnessed the defendant killing the victim beyond the shadow of doubt.
Of course, it is possible that Rosen is using death penalty for a bargaining means hoping Garcia-Torres to confess the crime and cooperate with investigators to find Sierra’s body.
But Rosen has to answer first to the principle: Is death penalty right for a case where the victim’s body has not been yet found?