Science

Paul Flores was found guilty of first-degree murder in the 1996 disappearance and death of Kristin Smart

last seen with man Kristin Smart He was convicted on Tuesday for the murder of a college freshman who disappeared from a California campus 25 years ago.

The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported that jurors unanimously found Paul Flores guilty of first-degree murder. In a separate trial, a jury found his father Reuben Flores not guilty of charges of being an aide to murder after the fact of allegedly helping to conceal the crime.

The conflicting rulings were read out at different moments in the same courtroom.

kristin-smart.jpg
Kristin Smart (record)

Smart disappeared from California Polytechnic State University over Memorial Day weekend in 1996. His remains were never found.

Prosecutors maintained the younger Flores, now 45, killed the 19-year-old during an attempted rape on May 25, 1996, in his dorm room in Cal Poly, where both were first-year students. He was the last person Smart was seen with as he walked her home from an off-campus party where she got drunk.

His father, now 81, was charged with helping to bury the slain student behind his home in the nearby community of Arroyo Grande, and later excavating and transporting the remains.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe thanked the jurors for their service after the murder verdict was announced.

“I would like to express my appreciation to you and the parties for your service in this matter,” she said. “Serving as a jury is a great personal sacrifice. … You have been very attentive and conscientious throughout this case.”

Robert Sanger, the son’s defense attorney, tried to accuse someone else of murder—noting that Scott Peterson, who was later convicted in the sensational murder of his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying Was – he was also a Cal Poly student. Time.

Missing college student murder case
Paul Flores listens during his murder trial at Monterey County Superior Court on Monday, July 18, 2022 in Salinas, Calif.

Daniel Dreyfuss / AP


During his closing arguments, son’s defense attorney Robert Sanger told jurors that there was no attempted rape and that he cast doubt on the testimony of witnesses, including a student who was in Smart’s dormitory, who told Flores. Witnessed watching in Smart’s room.

He also referred to the forensic evidence presented by the prosecution as “junk science”.

“The case was not tried for so many years because there is no evidence,” Sengar said. “It’s sad that Kristin Smart disappeared, and she went out on her own, but who knows?”

Paul Flores He was considered a murder suspect for a long time. His eyes were black when investigators interviewed him. According to court records, he told them he was playing basketball with friends, who denied his account. He later changed his story to say that he banged his head while working on his car.

However, the father and son were arrested in 2021 only after the matter was raised again.

Investigators conducted dozens of abortive searches for Smart’s body over two decades, but over the past two years they focused their attention on Reuben Flores’ home, about 12 miles south of Cal Poly in the community of Arroyo Grande.

In March 2021, archaeologists working for the police found a muddy mess about the size of a coffin and the presence of human blood, prosecutors said behind latticework under the deck of their large home on a dead end street. The blood was too spoiled to extract the DNA sample.

The trial was held in Salinas, 110 miles north of San Luis Obispo, after a judge granted a defense request to move it. The defense argued that it was unlikely that Flores, in a city of about 47,000 people with such notoriety, could receive a fair trial.

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