Tuesday 4 October 2022 07:12 AM Paul Flores 'guilty as sin' of killing Kristin Smart 26 years ago and burying ... trends now

Tuesday 4 October 2022 07:12 AM Paul Flores 'guilty as sin' of killing Kristin Smart 26 years ago and burying ... trends now
Tuesday 4 October 2022 07:12 AM Paul Flores 'guilty as sin' of killing Kristin Smart 26 years ago and burying ... trends now

Tuesday 4 October 2022 07:12 AM Paul Flores 'guilty as sin' of killing Kristin Smart 26 years ago and burying ... trends now

Kristin Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996 with Paul Flores, who walked the 19-year-old to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University after a party off-campus

Kristin Smart was last seen on May 25, 1996 with Paul Flores, who walked the 19-year-old to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University after a party off-campus

Lawyers for a California accused of the murder of a fellow student 26 years ago have claimed that the case is based entirely on rumor and speculation, without any evidence, as the long-awaited trial draws to a close.

Paul Flores, now 45, is accused of killing 19-year-old student Kristin Smart during an attempted rape and hiding her body with the help of his father - and prosecutors on Monday said he was 'guilty as sin'. 

Smart and Paul Flores were both students at California Polytechnic when she disappeared in May 1996 after an off-campus party.

On Monday, the long-awaited trial that began in July was inching closer to a verdict - after countless delays and two months of testimony.

Jurors heard closing statements in the case against Paul Flores in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, California, while a separate jury will hear closing statements for his father Ruben Flores on Tuesday. 

Paul Flores is pictured in court during his murder trial. He has denied killing Kristin Smart

Paul Flores is pictured in court during his murder trial. He has denied killing Kristin Smart

Paul Flores, now 45, is charged with murder in the commission of a rape or attempted rape

Ruben Flores, now 81, is charged with accessory after the fact

Paul Flores, now 45, is charged with murder in the commission of a rape or attempted rape. His father, Ruben Flores, now 81, is charged with accessory after the fact

Robert Sanger, Paul Flores's attorney, is seen speaking on August 3 during the trial

Robert Sanger, Paul Flores's attorney, is seen speaking on August 3 during the trial

Flores' father, now 81, allegedly helped bury the slain student behind his home in the nearby community of Arroyo Grande and later dug up the remains and moved them. 

He has been charged as an accessory. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Flores did not testify in self-defense. 

Monterey County Judge Jennifer O'Keefe told the jury as part of her instructions on Monday to ignore that.

'Do not consider for any reason at all that the defendant did not testify,' she said. 

'Do not discuss that in your deliberation.'

Flores, wearing a mask, suit, and tie, sat in silence next to his defense attorney, with his parents Ruben and Susan behind him in the courtroom gallery. 

Smart's friends and family were also in the courtroom gallery as well as an overflow courtroom, and visibly recoiled as the judge explained the charges against Flores, including murder with malice, rape, and sodomy by force.

Her body has never been found, but police believe she was buried beneath the deck of the Flores' family home for years. She was declared dead in 2002.

Kristin Smart timeline: From California college student's 1996 disappearance to 2022 murder trial 

May 1996

Kristin Smart, 19, of Stockton, California vanished.  The California Polytechnic State University freshman was last seen around 2 a.m. on May 25 when she walked back to her to her dorm room after an off-campus party in San Luis Obispo.  Paul Flores, her classmate who walked her home from the party, was the last person she was seen with.  Smart never returned to her dorm and was reported missing to the Cal Poly Police Department on May 28. Prosecutors would later say that Flores killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room.

August 2006 

Three cadaver dogs lead investigators to the dorm of 19-year-old Paul Flores during a search.  The dogs, which are trained to pick up the smell of human remains, alerted to the corner of a mattress on Flores side of the room. 

May 2002 

Smart was declared legally dead. But her family vowed to get justice.

2011 

Ian Parkinson became the San Luis Obispo County sheriff.  He requested a complete review of all the evidence in relation to Kristin Smart's missing person case.

2016 

There are new leads in the investigation and official excavate a hillside on the Cal Poly campus and cadaver dogs are used to search for Smart's remains. A San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's spokesman says investigators uncovered some 'items of interest' 

2019

New witnesses were interviewed which led detectives to securing a court order to monitor Paul Flores' cellphone activity.

September 2019

A podcast launched by Chris Lambert, 'Your Own Backyard,' brought renewed attention to case. He was later praised by San Luis Obispo Sheriff Ian Parkinson for his help bringing attention to the case. 

February 2020 

Officials obtain four search warrants for Paul Flores. Two of the warrants were served in San Luis Obispo, another in Los Angeles County and the fourth one in the state of Washington.  Investigators said the warrants were for very specific items.

 April 2020

Evidence from previous search warrants led detectives to serve an additional warrant at Paul's home.  During the search, officials said they found evidence related to the murder of Smart.

March 2021 

Search warrants for issued for the Arroyo Grande home of Paul Flores' father, Ruben Flores, 80. Investigators used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar to search the home.

April 2021

Both Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores were arrested in connection to Smart's murder. Paul Flores, who had been longtime person of interest in Smart's disappearance case, was named the prime suspect in the case. 

 April 14, 2021

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said that Smart was killed during an attempted rape by Paul Flores in his dorm room and his father helped hide her body.  

April 19, 2021

Paul Flores and Ruben Flores plead not guilty in connection with Smart's disappearance. 

July 18, 2022 

Opening statements begin.  Paul and Ruben Flores are being tried separately, but at the same time, with two different juries. 

October 3, 2022

After nearly three months of testimony, delays, closing statements will begin on Monday in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, California. Jurors will hear closing statements in the case against Paul Flores on Monday, while a separate jury will hear closing arguments in the case of Ruben Flores on Tuesday. Immediately after closing statements, jurors will head to the deliberation room.  Whichever jury finishes first will seal its decision and give it to the court clerk.  Each verdict will be read separately. 

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Robert Sanger, defending Paul Flores, on Monday afternoon said there was no evidence against his client, and insisted the case was based on rumor.

'Conspiracy theories can be fun. We love to hear them,' said Sanger. 

'We like to watch shows, and you think, 'I bet I know what happened'. 

'But you're here as jurors. You took an oath that you would follow the rule of law.' 

Sanger picked holes in the witness testimony, noting it had been 26 years since Smart's death, and questioning their memories.

In his closing arguments, Sanger said the prosecution's case was not to showcase evidence, but rather to evoke an emotional prejudice against Paul Flores by using phrases like 'guilty as sin' and quoting witness testimony that says Paul Flores called Smart a 'd*** tease.' 

He said the prosecution's 'belief is not relevant, my belief is not relevant — you have to look at the facts.' 

The publicity of the case is 'the elephant in the room,' Sanger said, adding that there were people 'inserting themselves' into the case along with extensive news coverage locally and nationally. 

'A lot of this had an influence on testimony,' Sanger said. 

He also tried to undercut the prosecution's idea of Smart as a young innocent, insisting she was wild.

'It'd be nice to just preserve this idea that everything was fine and she was angelic, but the reality is she engaged in at-risk behavior and you have to interpret how that affects the events that may have transpired,' he said. 

'You have a pretty straightforward job. You have to decide whether or not a murder was committed, beyond a reasonable doubt,' Sanger told the jury. 

'Short answer – it was not.' 

Sanger will conclude his summing up on Tuesday. 

Earlier on Monday Christopher Peuvrelle, deputy district attorney, told the jurors that Smart was 'hunted' by Paul Flores for months before her murder, and said he was 'guilty as sin'.

He said that Paul Flores and his father did not join in the community hunt for the missing teenager. 

'Now you know where she was all along,' said Peuvrelle. 'She was under their deck. 

'The community moved Heaven and Earth to try to find her. Paul and Ruben, they moved the dirt under their deck to hide her.' 

Peuvrelle told the court, KRON4 reported, that the jurors should ignore the 26 years it has taken to accumulate evidence and press charges. 

'Justice delayed does not have to be justice denied. We know now the truth. The truth is out,' he said. 

'The truth is Kristin was plucked off the face of the Earth by Paul Flores.

'For crimes that happen in a bedroom, there are no witnesses. But ground-penetrating radar, a forensic archeologist, and a lab supervisor tell us what Kristin could not. We don't have a full intact body in this case, but we have her blood. A couple grains of bloody sand. 

'That's all the Smart family has left of their daughter. (Rape victims) 'Sarah Doe' and 'Rhonda Doe' tell us what Kristin could not. That she was raped. They speak for Kristin. You have everything you need to render a guilty verdict.' 

Peuvrelle is expected to finish his closing arguments on Monday lunchtime, and will be followed by closing arguments from Robert Sanger, Paul Flores' attorney.

Paul Flores had long been considered a suspect in the killing, but prosecutors only arrested him and his father in 2021 after the investigation was revived.

Last month, archaeologist Cindy Arrington told jurors that while there was no body beneath suspect Paul Flores' home when they dug up ground, human decomposition stains suggest a body had indeed been buried there at some stage.

She also said the body had likely been 'encapsulated' in either a 'tarp' or a 'coffin or bag' - a graphic detail that prompted tears from one of the jurors.

Investigators think Flores and his father Ruben then moved the corpse once police started closing in on them last year, galvanized by renewed interest in the case that

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