Jury selection begins today for Antolin Garcia-Torres. He faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering Sierra Lamar. pic.twitter.com/gZLqMtUUhR— Matt Keller (@MattKellerABC7) October 17, 2016
There was an audible gasp in the courtroom when the judge told the potential jurors this case could last through April of 2017. A lot of people are requesting hardships. Those who weren't granted a hardship are filling out the jury questionnaire which has 127 questions inside.
The questionnaire is a crucial part of this high profile trial. Antolin Garcia-Torres is charged with the murder of LaMar with a special circumstance of kidnapping.
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Garcia-Torres is also facing additional charges for attempted kidnapping during the commission of a carjacking.
He's pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Jurors are filling out the questionnaire and answering questions about DNA evidence, their beliefs on the death penalty and others related to the investigation and case.
Potential jurors in Sierra Lamar murder case told trial could last through April, 2017. ~75% of first jury pool requested hardship. pic.twitter.com/8aYUW2BibR— Matt Keller (@MattKellerABC7) October 17, 2016
The defense and prosecution will get to review the answers and then ask further questions when the jurors return on Nov. 14.
Legal analyst Steven Clark says jury selection can make or break a trial.
"There's a real strategy that goes into the selection of a jury. For the prosecution you want a cohesive unit that will work together because you need a unanimous verdict," Clark said. "For the defense you want independent thinkers who want to fight for their side, and hold out if they feel the prosecution hasn't met their burden."
RELATED: ANALYST: Seeking death penalty for Sierra LaMar murder suspect carries risk
Clark says the judge left the possibility of a change of venue on the table in case the jury pool says it can't be impartial due to the media coverage.
LaMar's body was never found.
The trial starts just two days before LaMar's birthday. She would have been 20 years old Wednesday.
For full coverage on the disappearance of Sierra LaMar, click here.