California man accused of murdering Kristin Smart in 1996 denies killing her ...

California man accused of murdering Kristin Smart in 1996 denies killing her ...
California man accused of murdering Kristin Smart in 1996 denies killing her ...

The California man accused of killing 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart back in 1996 pleaded not guilty to her murder on Wednesday.

Paul Flores, 44, was arrested in April and charged with first-degree murder while raping or attempting to rape Smart in his dorm room at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo more than 25 years ago.

His father, Ruben Flores, 80, is also facing accessory charges for allegedly helping his son conceal the body, and also pleaded not guilty in in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Wednesday.

If convicted, Paul faces 25 years to life in prison and would have to register as a sex offender, while Ruben faces a maximum of three years - though it is unclear whether that would be in county jail or state prison, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune

The two are scheduled for another pre-trial hearing on December 6 via Zoom, and a trial is expected to begin on April 25, although lawyers for Paul plan to file a motion to dismiss the case.

That motion will likely be heard in January. 

Paul Flores, left, and his father, Ruben Flores, 80, were arrested in April following a 25-year investigation into the disappearance of California Polytechnic State University student Kristin Smart. Prosecutors allege Paul murdered her after raping or attempting to rape her, and his father helped him conceal the body

Paul Flores, left, and his father, Ruben Flores, 80, were arrested in April following a 25-year investigation into the disappearance of California Polytechnic State University student Kristin Smart. Prosecutors allege Paul murdered her after raping or attempting to rape her, and his father helped him conceal the body

Smart was last seen near her dorm room on May 25, 1996 after Paul walked her back from an off-campus party

Smart was last seen near her dorm room on May 25, 1996 after Paul walked her back from an off-campus party

The Floreses were arrested in April after a decades-long search to find Smart, who was last seen near her dorm room on May 25, 1996. 

Paul had been the main suspect throughout the 25-year search, with officials saying he walked a very intoxicated Kristin Smart home after hitting on her all night and behaving 'hyperactively' at a party they'd both attended off-campus, witnesses say.

Prosecutors allege the then-19-year-old then killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room.

She was never found, and officials ruled her dead in 2002.

But during a pre-trial hearing shortly following their arrest, prosecutors presented evidence that Smart's body was at one point buried under a deck shielded by lattice behind Ruben Flores's Arroyo Grande home. 

Traces of human blood were discovered under the deck by investigators during a search in March, along with stains in the soil and a disturbance in the earth roughly the size of a human body. 

Prosecutors say that the body was moved from that location by Paul Flores, with his father's help.  

Smart's body was never found. 

Investigators searched Reuben Flores's Arroyo Grande home back in April

Investigators searched Reuben Flores's Arroyo Grande home back in April

An unidentified radar operator examined the earth below Ruben Flores' home

An unidentified radar operator examined the earth below Ruben Flores' home

They also searched an area near the university in an effort to find Smart's body

They also searched an area near the university in an effort to find Smart's body 

Then during the evidentiary hearing, which concluded on September 22 when Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled the trial could move forward, prosecutors claimed Paul Flores had repeatedly lied to investigators to cover his tracks.

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