Judge van Rooyen ruled that enough evidence had been presented to move forward
SAN LUIS OBISPO – On Wednesday morning, September 22nd, Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled that enough evidence had been produced for Paul, 44, and Ruben, 80) Flores to be charged with the murder of Kristin Smart.
The father and son are charged in connection with the disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart in 1996.
Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996 when Paul left an off-campus party on Crandall Way in San Luis Obispo.
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Although her remains were never found, Smart was legally declared dead in 2002.
Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested at their homes last April, almost 25 years after Kristin’s disappearance.
Paul is charged with her murder. After the crime, his father Ruben is accused of being an accomplice and of hiding Kristin’s body.
Paul has been in the San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail since his arrest. Ruben is currently free on bail.
The preliminary hearing started on Monday August 2nd.
More than two dozen witnesses were called to testify, including current and former detectives, former friends and acquaintances of Paul and Kristin, mortuary dog handlers and soil experts.
Several people testified that they saw Paul take Smart back to their dorm after the party on Crandall Way.
Cadaver dog handlers, who searched the dormitories after she was reported missing, testified that their dogs were urgently alerted to Paul’s room. Forensic experts said they found human blood in the dirt below the decks of Ruben Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande, but could not find any DNA.
Investigators believed Smart’s remains were below Rubens’ deck and were recently relocated.
During Monday’s closing arguments, San Luis Obispo County’s Assistant District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle said Paul Flores lied to cover up Kristin Smart’s murder.
Paul’s defense attorney Robert Sanger said there was no trial against Paul Flores and certainly no trial against Ruben Flores. He said no real evidence was found in this case.
Rubens defense attorney Harold Mesick repeated the same thoughts, saying prosecutors tried to paint “lipstick on a pig”.
The judge said he had strong suspicions that Kristin Smart was murdered and buried under Rubens’ deck. He based his judgment on the probable cause standard, which is a lower standard of evidence than that used by a jury in a trial.
Kristin Smart’s family attended each day of the hearing, along with Susan Flores, who relied on her right under the fifth amendment to not testify on the first day.
Paul and Ruben Flores are due to be charged on October 20th.
Following the verdict, San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said, “We continue to support Kristin Smart’s family as we work for justice.”
In response to the verdict, Kristin Smart’s family issued a statement on Sept. 23 stating:
Statement from Kristin Smart’s family:
Yesterday was a very good day and we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of Kristin’s supporters in San Luis Obispo and beyond. So many people have played such an important role in the past 25 years and we are humble at the amazing support and generosity we have received. We would particularly like to thank the public prosecutor’s office for their tireless efforts.
Our family always knew this was going to be a long, difficult, and emotional journey. We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin. You – and everyone who worked so hard for the day – deserve nothing less.