CA KRISTIN SMART: Missing from San Luis Obispo, CA - 25 May 1996 - Age 19 *TRIAL IN PROGRESS*

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Kristin was last seen on May 25, 1996. Her nickname is Roxy. FOUL PLAY IS SUSPECTED.
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Smart was a freshman architecture major at California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly) in San Luis Obispo, California in 1996. She departed from an off-campus party and headed for her dormitory at approximately 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on May 25, 1996. At the party, Smart was acting as if she was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. When she left the gathering, she was having trouble walking.

Smart was accompanied by a female acquaintance and another student from the university, Paul R. Flores, when she left the party. Her friend separated from Smart and Flores at the intersection of Perimeter Road and Grand Avenue on the college campus.

Flores allegedly told Smart's friend that he would see Smart to her home. She was last seen walking north on Grand Avenue with Flores, towards Muir Hall, her dormitory. Smart has never been heard from again. She was not carrying any identification, cash or personal belongings at the time she vanished.

NCMEC - NamUs - Doe Network -

 
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Duffy presided over Monday’s hearing because Van Rooyen is in session on another trial, but the case will remain in Van Rooyen’s court moving forward.

Flores — speaking on Zoom from the County Jail in a suit and tie and wearing a mask — requested to be present in person at Wednesday’s hearing when asked if he was willing to waive his right to be present.

Flores said he wanted to know more about the potential outcome related to the discovery before “waiving time.”

“I would like to be there on Wednesday,” Flores said.

Duffy explained to Flores that his April trial date remains the same, and the hearing isn’t an issue of waiving time.

“Your trial date has not changed at all,” Duffy said. “It’s the same as was previously set. Nobody is asking to change the trial date”
 

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Motion to dismiss murder charges filed in Kristin Smart case​

The attorney for a defendant accused in the death and disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart has filed a motion to dismiss murder charges, citing a lack of probable cause from testimony and evidence presented at a 2021 preliminary hearing, according to court records.

In the motion filed Dec. 17 in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, attorney Bob Sanger cites a lack of any new credible evidence from prosecution witnesses in the nearly 26-year-old case, and the reliance on a witness who Sanger says was influenced by a local true crime podcaster "obsessed" with getting his client convicted.

Additionally, the motion cites a lack of any legal or factual basis for the admissibility of cadaver dog search evidence, and challenges the 2021 searches of an Arroyo Grande residence and a 1996 police interrogation of Sanger's client in the month following Smart's disappearance.

"There must be some evidence to support each and every element of the charges against the defendant, or the finding must fail," Sanger said in the motion. "Although [District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle] touted some new material, that material is not evidence that withstands the most cursory look."


The motion is scheduled to be heard at 8:30 a.m. Jan. 21 in Dept. 1 of Superior Court.
 

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Judge denies motion to dismiss murder charges in Kristin Smart case​

A judge on Friday denied a motion to dismiss murder charges against the father and son defendants accused in the death and disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, who went missing in 1996.

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Jacquelyn Duffy rejected the motion filed by the defense on Dec. 17 that asked to set aside a Sept. 22, 2021, ruling upholding the charges against Paul and Ruben Flores. The case now proceeds to a tentative trial start date on April 25.

In her ruling, Duffy cited the "exceedingly" low standard to reach a probable cause ruling and that it was sufficient to uphold the necessary elements in the charges, including from cadaver dog alerts, in the soil samples and from inconsistent statements made by Paul Flores to investigators that seemed to contradict witness testimony.
 

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Flores attorneys ask judge to move Kristin Smart murder trial due to pretrial publicity

Lawyers for Paul and Ruben Flores filed a 500-page change-of-venue motion late Wednesday, asking the court to move the Kristin Smart murder trial outside of San Luis Obispo County.

The team claims it is not possible for the two to receive a fair trial in San Luis Obispo. Smart’s disappearance has been “a topic of emotional concern in the San Luis Obispo County community since 1996,” and in those near 26 years, the community has been continuously exposed to news articles, memorials and billboards about the case, the motion said.

Attitudes of community members toward Paul Flores and his family have been “vicious and relentless,” the defense claims, and the press, private individuals, bloggers, website managers and public relations efforts by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices contributed to it.
 

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Flores attorneys ask judge to move Kristin Smart murder trial due to pretrial publicity

Lawyers for Paul and Ruben Flores filed a 500-page change-of-venue motion late Wednesday, asking the court to move the Kristin Smart murder trial outside of San Luis Obispo County.

The team claims it is not possible for the two to receive a fair trial in San Luis Obispo. Smart’s disappearance has been “a topic of emotional concern in the San Luis Obispo County community since 1996,” and in those near 26 years, the community has been continuously exposed to news articles, memorials and billboards about the case, the motion said.

Attitudes of community members toward Paul Flores and his family have been “vicious and relentless,” the defense claims, and the press, private individuals, bloggers, website managers and public relations efforts by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s Offices contributed to it.
500 pages??? I don't mean they have a lot--I mean that is flooding a court and judge and the other side...
 

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Judge moves Kristin Smart murder trial out of SLO County​

A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge decided to move the Kristin Smart murder trial out of SLO County in a court hearing Wednesday morning, saying its unlikely a jury here can provide fair judgment in the case.

Judge Craig Van Rooyen made the decision regarding the change-of-venue motion filed earlier this month by lawyers for Paul and Ruben Flores.


The main factors that contributed to van Rooyen’s decision were the nature and extent of the news coverage and the size of the community. He said the case has been in the news for 25 years and has been the focus of intense scrutiny from the local community for decades. And this focus has only increased in recent years.

While most of the news coverage is factual, speculation has been quoted in some articles, van Rooyen said. He added speculation and opinions about the case have been shared on multiple media mediums, including podcasts, websites and social media.

He added that the national coverage of the case did not negate the need for a new trial location.

“I don’t think this case is discussed around dinner tables in other counties like it is in this county,” van Rooyen said.

He added that he believes the publicity in SLO County has reached a saturation point, and that there is not enough people in the county to dilute the risk of bias in potential jurors.
 

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To each his own jury in the Kristin Smart murder trial​

There is one trial with two juries planned in the June 6 tribunal of accused murderer Paul Flores and his alleged accomplice Ruben Flores. Paul Flores is charged with murdering Kristin Smart in San Luis Obispo during an attempted rape in 1996, and his father is accused of helping dispose of her body.

Each defendant will have his own jury, which will listen to most of the trial simultaneously. The two juries will rotate between the jury box and the gallery in a trial expected to last between three and five months.

According to the “Aranda Bruton Rule,” a defendant’s 6th Amendment right to confront and cross-examine witnesses can be violated when a recorded statement made by a co-defendant appears to implicate the defendant if admitted in their joint trial. The judge can decide to either have two trials or seat two juries, and have one jury outside the courtroom while the recorded statement is played and discussed.
 

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Kristin Smart murder trial is supposed to start next week. Here’s what’s happening

The Kristin Smart murder trial is scheduled to start in Monterey County Superior Court less than a week.


The trial is scheduled to begin on May 31. However, there were still no hearings scheduled — including pre-preliminary or preliminary trial conferences — for Paul or Ruben Flores as of 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Ruben Flores’ bail conditions were modified Monday to allow him to travel outside of San Luis Obispo County to Monterey County for court proceedings.

It’s not clear whether Paul and Ruben Flores could see their trial pushed back due to the change of venue.


HOW CAN I WATCH TRIAL OF PAUL AND RUBEN FLORES?

Multiple media organizations, including the Tribune, have filed media requests to cover the trial. As of Tuesday afternoon, all requests remained under review by the judge and had yet to be decided on.

Monterey County Superior Court does not currently provide live streaming video of or video conference access to court hearings, court executive officer Chris Ruhl told the Tribune.

Whether that will change with this case is to be determined by the judge, Ruhl said.

The court provides a phone line that allows members of the public to listen to hearings — but only if the hearings are on Zoom.

Ruhl told the Tribune that the court is in the process of creating a web page specifically for the Flores case and it should be live in ”a week or so.” That site is meant to be a hub for all information about the Smart case.
 

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Jury selection begins for Kristin Smart murder case​

Jury selection is underway in the Kristin Smart murder case as the screening of more than 1,500 potential jurors began on Monday in a Salinas courtroom.

On Monday, hundreds of jurors were vetted and/or eliminated for any hardships or any reasons that would keep them from remaining impartial in the case.

The trial is expected to begin on July 6, 2022.
 

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Prosecutors try to prove 1996 killing with body missing​

The smiling face of Kristin Smart still looks out from a billboard in front of attorney James Murphy Jr.’s law office more than 25 years after the college freshman vanished from a campus on California's picturesque central coast.

It once offered a $75,000 reward to help find the college student, but these days the billboard simply says: “Justice For Kristin.”

Smart is still missing, but the man last seen with her at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 1996 is on trial more than a year after he was arrested on a murder charge along with his father, who is accused of helping hide her body.

Opening statements are scheduled Monday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas in the trial of Paul Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, who is charged as an accessory. Both men have pleaded not guilty.
 

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Live: Prosecutors lay out case against Paul Flores as trial opens in death of Kristin Smart​

In opening statements Monday morning, prosecutors painted a picture of Paul Flores hovering around Kristin Smart in the run-up to her disappearance at a 1996 college party and as having engaged in a pattern of non-consensual encounters with women.

Paul Flores is charged with the murder of the Stockton woman, who was a student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo when she went missing May 25, 1996. His father, Ruben Flores is charged as an accessory. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The trial before Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O'Keefe began about 8:30 a.m. Monday.
 

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In the wake of Kristin Smart’s disappearance from Cal Poly’s campus, detectives knew Paul Flores was “lying through his teeth,” according to prosecutors.

Flores and Smart were both 19-year-old freshmen Cal Poly students who attended the same party the night she vanished, on May 25, 1996. Flores is charged with murdering Smart as he attempted to rape her in his dorm room.

During opening statements of Flores’ murder trial this week, prosecutors played a video of Flores stumbling over questions from Cal Poly campus police detectives inside an interrogation room. The interrogation was recorded just days after Smart’s college friends alerted police that she was missing.

Flores admitted he promised another student, Cheryl Anderson, that he would make sure Smart made it back to her dorm room in Muir Hall safely from the party. According to multiple party-goers, Smart was “incapacitated” — unable to walk or stand on her own — because of something she drank at the party, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle told the jury.

Flores attempted to kiss Anderson before she walked away around 2:30 a.m. She refused his advances because she was “creeped out,” Peuvrelle said. When Anderson looked back one last time at Flores and Smart, she saw that he was leading Smart toward his dorm, Santa Lucia Hall, not Muir Hall, the prosecutor told the jury.

“She made a decision that she’s regretted ever since. She was the last person other than Paul Flores to see Kristin alive. She saw Paul taking Kristin toward his dorm to the left,” the prosecutor said. Flores’ roommate was out of town that weekend, and “Paul knew he had three full days in that room (alone),” Peuvrelle told the jury.

“What happened in the privacy of his room that night?” Peuvrelle asked the jury.

Flores only made one phone call the weekend Smart disappeared, according to prosecutors. He called his father at 9:47 a.m. on Sunday, May 26, 1996. Flores’ father is now charged with helping cover up the homicide by burying Smart’s body in his Arroyo Grande home’s backyard.
 

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Kristin Smart murder trial back in session in Salinas courtroom​

The Kristin Smart murder trial resumed in a Salinas courtroom on Thursday after an unexpected two-day delay due to "health issues."

Opening statements for Paul Flores wrapped up on Monday, and Thursday morning began with the conclusion of opening statements for Ruben Flores.

Ruben's attorney, Harold Mesick, presented the opening statements, saying the case is tragic for the Smart family, but that there is no evidence to convict Ruben.

Mesick continued by describing the night that Kristin Smart went missing, and argued that it doesn't make sense for Paul to take Kristin's dead body in the middle of the day, load it up in a truck with Ruben, and bury it at their house.

He claimed that there was no evidence of DNA, clothes, bones, or teeth.

Mesick said that there has to be more evidence, because in this case, "there is no evidence." He called everything to be presented "ambiguous evidence."

Mesick concluded by detailing all of the accomplishments that Ruben Flores has had, such as volunteering with the Redondo Beach Police Department and serving in the U.S. military.

"This is a good man. This is a good father, this is a good husband," he said. "My client is absolutely innocent. Don't be fooled, be skeptical. At the end of the day, Kristin Smart will be missing and we don't know where she is."
 

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Kristin Smart Murder Trial Hits Another Delay​

After returning to court on Monday, July 25, the Kristin Smart Murder Trial has once again been delayed.

The jury, reporters, and court officials returned to court on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. with the plan to continue testimonies. However, shortly after Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe took her seat in the courtroom, she announced the trial would be postponed until next Monday.

Judge O’Keefe informed the court that a member of one of the juries could not attend trial due to an “unexpected emergency” and said they did not want to run through the case’s list of alternates.

The judge also said that, so far, the trial has been ahead of schedule and that the delay would not put them far behind.
 

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Kristin Smart murder trial enters fourth week of testimony, evidence​

One of the last people to to see Kristin Smart alive, as she left an off-campus party at Cal Poly, took the stand in her murder trial in Monterey County on Monday, the testimony marked the start of the fourth week of a case that began after Smart disappeared in 1996.
 

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Kristin Smart murder trial hears that cadaver dog made a beeline for bed in suspect Paul Flores' dorm room after the student's disappearance in 1996​

A dog handler testified at the Kristin Smart murder trial this week that her cadaver dog made a beeline for the bed in suspect Paul Flores' dorm room in the weeks after the student's 1996 disappearance.


Dog handler Adela Morris, who was enlisted to assist in the police investigation in the weeks after Smart vanished, took the stand at the Monterey County court on Monday.

She told the court that when she released her K9 Cholla at Santa Lucia Hall, the border collie search dog 'immediately made a U-turn and became 'very methodical and slow' ultimately wanting to get into room 128 — Paul Flores' room.

Morris said that when Cholla entered the room she was 'extremely focused' and 'very clearly in scent' as she alerted her handler by jumping to her hip, focused only on the left side of the room - where Flores slept.

'I had no doubts that she gave her alert that she gives when she detects human remains and it was a very strong alert,' Morris said. 'She was very clear.'
 

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Kristin Smart case: California trial resumes with expert who found traces of DNA in evidence​

The California trial for the men accused in connection with college student Kristin Smart’s disappearance and presumed death returned to a Monterey County courtroom on Monday after nearly a week hiatus.

Jurors on Monday heard from forensic DNA analyst Angela Butler, who first took the stand last week before court went dark. Butler has spent over 20 years in her role and later began focusing her workload on "the most complicated cases submitted to the lab — usually cold cases," she said, according to reports from inside the courtroom.

Butler tests evidence and items recovered over the course of criminal investigations for any signs of blood, bodily fluids, saliva, semen, or feces, among other things, she testified. Her examination results are then checked by a second person. She told the court she has performed "thousands" of tests and handed "hundreds of cases over 20 years," according to the YOB Podcast.

In the Smart case, she conducted HemDirect tests, which she reportedly described as being "a test that detects hemoglobin — a protein found in blood that gives it its red pigment. It specifically reacts to human hemoglobin and higher primates. It cannot differentiate."

She acknowledged on the stand that the specific tests can show a false positive when encountering ferret blood, prompting some jurors to react by looking at each other, YOB Podcast reported.

The podcast maker described jurors as taking notes regarding portions of Butler’s testimony, and reacting to things she said at times.
 

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