What happened To Paul Flores the last man seen with Kristin Smart was convicted Tuesday of her murder after she vanished from a California campus more than 25 years ago, but his father was acquitted of aiding in the cover-up.
Paul Flores was convicted guilty of first-degree murder by a unanimous jury. In a separate trial, a jury found his father, Ruben Flores, not guilty of being an accessory to murder after the fact. In the same courtroom, the opposing verdicts were read out loud.
Around Memorial Day weekend in 1996, Smart vanished from California Polytechnic State University on the state’s picturesque central coast. Her remains were never discovered. It wasn’t until 2021 that the father and son were apprehended.
Authorities claimed the younger Flores, now 45, murdered the 19-year-old during an attempted rape in his dorm room at Cal Poly, where both were first-year students, on May 25, 1996. He was the last person seen with Smart, walking her home from an off-campus party where she had become inebriated.
His father, now 81, was accused of assisting in the burying of the dead student behind his home in the nearby village of Arroyo Grande, as well as subsequently digging up and transferring the bones.
Outside the courthouse, Ruben Flores maintained his son’s innocence and expressed regret that Smart’s family will never receive a resolution. “We don’t know what happened to their daughter,” he said to reporters. The older Flores stated that the matter was about feelings rather than facts.
A page on Twitter kept every update about the case. You can see their tweets given below
Defense Attorney Robert Sanger was not present for today's hearing because he is working on another trial in Los Angeles. He asked Attorney Frank J. Ochoa to sit in for him.
— Your Own Backyard Podcast (@YOBPodcast) February 9, 2023
Robert Sanger, the son’s defense attorney, did not immediately answer calls seeking comment on the verdict. Once the guilty decision in the murder case was announced, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe praised the jurors for their service.
“I wish to express to you the appreciation and that of the parties for your service in this case,” she added. “You have been very attentive and conscientious throughout this case.”
Sanger had attempted to blame someone else for the crime, claiming that Scott Peterson, who was later convicted in a dramatic trial of murdering his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying, was also a student at the college approximately 200 miles (320 kilometers) up the coast from Los Angeles.
During his closing remarks, Sanger informed jurors that no attempted rape occurred and he questioned witness testimony, including that of a student in Smart’s dorm who claimed to see Flores enter Smart’s room.
For How Long Flores Was Suspected?
Paul Flores was a longtime murder suspect. Investigators interviewed him with a black eye. Court records show he claimed he received it playing basketball with pals, who denied it. He then claimed he hit his head while fixing his car.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office planned a Tuesday afternoon news conference to address the results. Throughout the past two years, investigators have focused on Ruben Flores’ residence at Arroyo Grande, 12 miles (20 kilometers) south of Cal Poly.
In March 2021, police archaeologists uncovered a soil disturbance the size of a casket and human blood behind latticework beneath the deck of his huge property on a dead-end street, prosecutors said. Blood was too deteriorated to recover DNA.
A judge allowed the defense to shift the trial to Salinas, 110 miles (177 kilometers) north of San Luis Obispo. The defense maintained that the Floreses were too famous in the population of 47,000 to get a fair trial.
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