Paul Flores Convicted In Kristin Smart’s Murder; His Father Acquitted

On Tuesday, a jury found Paul Flores guilty of murdering Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart, bringing an end to a mystery that has fascinated and enraged the community for more than two decades.

Flores’s conviction for first-degree murder comes despite the fact that Smart’s corpse has never been located, something that had been seen as a major roadblock in the case.

Paul Flores Convicted In Kristin Smart's Murder; His Father Acquitted
Paul Flores Convicted In Kristin Smart’s Murder; His Father Acquitted

As an accessory to murder, his 81-year-old father, Ruben Flores, was cleared. After hearing testimony concurrently with the trial of the two men, a second jury concluded that there was reasonable doubt that he had helped his son cover up the murder by burying Smart’s corpse beneath his house’s deck and storing the remains there for years.

Smart, then 19 years old, disappeared on May 25, 1996, when she and her boyfriend, Paul Flores, were returning to their dorms after a party. In 2002, she was proclaimed deceased by the courts.

San Luis Obispo will never be the same because of her abduction and the subsequent murder inquiry. Large billboards pleaded for information that would lead to the conviction of her murderer. There is a podcast about genuine crimes in which this absence plays a role. There is already a small but growing business of private detectives thanks to it.

Because of all the media coverage, the court decided to shift the trial to Monterey County. The jury in Flores’ case took eight days to reach a verdict, whereas the jury in his father’s case just took three. After one juror was dismissed from the case against Ruben Flores because he discussed it with his priest, the remaining members of the jury had to resume deliberations with a new set of alternates.

On December 9, Paul Flores will be sentenced to between 25 and life in prison. On his way out of the Salinas courtroom, Robert Sanger’s attorney was hounded by media, but he declined to make any remarks.

After waiting for 25 years, District Attorney Dan Dow of San Luis Obispo County declared that “the system has now finally given justice” for Smart.

What happened to Kristin Smart in 1996 and the inquiry into it “had an effect on the Smart family, on our community… that was deep,” said Dow. That justice is delayed today is not justice denied tomorrow.

Stan Smart, who has spent years fighting for justice in the abduction of his daughter, said that despite Tuesday’s hung jury, he would continue to look for answers.

Without Kristin, there’s no pleasure or happiness in this load, he remarked on behalf of his family during a press conference. “It’s been a harrowingly lengthy ride with much more lows than highs. However, we now have fresh confidence in the judicial system.”

Outside the courtroom, after his 18-month ankle monitor was removed, Ruben Flores stated, “The case was about sentiments.”

Flores, who was unable to contact his kid before he was taken away, said, “It wasn’t about facts.” “I believe my kid experienced this since it was mostly an emotional exchange. Emotions concerning the missing child and the family led them astray.”

During the trial, Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle for San Luis Obispo County testified that Paul Flores assaulted or tried to rape, and then murdered, Smart, before burying her body under the deck of his father’s Arroyo Grande home. Meanwhile, in 2020, according to Peuvrelle, a neighbor saw some unusual things happening with a trailer in the yard. It was at this time that further enquiries were conducted into the property, and it was at this time that the prosecution informed the jury that Smart’s father and son relocated his body.

Yet Ruben Flores strongly refuted the claims.

There have been “searches and everything,” he claimed. “They show up here unexpectedly and tell me she was laid to rest in my backyard. They claim I buried her alive and then dug her up. You should know that I am 81 years old. I don’t go into things very deeply.”

According to Peuvrelle, Paul Flores was a serial abuser who continued to drug and molest women he brought to his house in the Los Angeles region even after he became the focus of the Smart probe.

Detectives with the San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s office tracked down Flores at his house in San Pedro in April 2021, decades after Smart went missing and he was named a suspect.

Sanger said the evidence presented to the jury was “a mishmash of conspiracy ideas not backed up by facts.” He said that the prosecution lacked any hard evidence linking Flores to the crime at hand, like DNA or bodily fluids.

According to him, the case was developed on circumstantial evidence that was bolstered by locals and a true crime podcast called “Your Own Backyard,” which uncovered prospective witnesses and areas of inquiry.

In his final remarks, Ruben Flores’s attorney Harold Mesick pointed out that the absence of physical evidence and the “demonization” of the Floreses in San Luis Obispo over the years set this case apart from ordinary murder cases.

After his client was exonerated on Tuesday, Mesick stated, “He should have never been prosecuted.” “A society where the assumption of innocence is really respected would be a lovely place to live. The hatred directed against this guy and his loved ones is palpable.”

Mesick said that he anticipates Paul Flores’ counsel would appeal and utilize Ruben Flores’ verdict as part of the case.

 

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