Detective also testifies law enforcement leaked information to podcaster Chris Lambert, while Flores family was wiretapped
SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detective Clinton Cole continued to take the stand on Wednesday, Sept. 1, on the 16th day of the hearing for Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores hearing.
The father and son are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Paul has been charged with her murder, and Ruben is being charged with accessory after the fact.
Both men were arrested in April. Ruben is out on bail, but Paul remains in the San Luis Obispo County jail with no bail.
Kristin’s remains have never been found, but she was declared legally dead in 2002.
Det. Cole took the stand to testify why they believe a crime was committed at Ruben’s home on White Court in Arroyo Grande.
He discussed evidence that was collected during searches of the property in April 2021, which included anomalies in the backyard and a 4-foot deep hole under the deck containing fibers and suspicious staining in the soil related to human remains.
Det. Cole then testified that on Mar. 9, 2020, a witness reported suspicious activity at Ruben’s property. It was reported a trailer was parked there at odd hours, and Paul’s mother, Susan Flores, and her boyfriend Mike McConville were there.
This incident is reported to have happened following a search warrant served in February 2020.
According to testimony on Wednesday from Det. Cole, a warrant to search the trailer was served in 2020. The search revealed a stain “similar” to a human body after the inside was sprayed with a chemical used to detect bodily fluids. Specifically, the chemicals revealed a “suspicious” reaction inside one of the trailer’s doors.
Det. Cole said he used Bluestar, a forensic chemical used to rapidly test for the presence of blood. The chemical could also be used to detect cleaning agents, he added.
Det. Cole also testified that the Flores family was wiretapped for 30 days starting on Jan. 5, 2020.
He also said that law enforcement leaked information to “Your Own Backyard” podcaster Chris Lambert specifically that they had Paul’s white Nissan pickup in their possession. He said this was done so Lambert would include the information in his podcast during the time of the wiretap.
Additionally, Det. Cole talked about his interview with witness Jennifer Hudson in November 2019.
Hudson previously testified during the preliminary hearing that while hanging out with a group of skateboarders in San Luis Obispo in 1996, she heard Paul Flores use a derogatory term to refer to Kristin Smart and say, “I’m done playing with her, and I put her out underneath my ramp in Huasna.”
She said she didn’t tell law enforcement about it until she talked to Det. Cole in 2019.
Paul’s defense attorney, Robert Sanger, questioned Det. Cole over alleged inappropriate contact with Hudson.
Sanger questions Det. Cole over inconsistent dates in his notes alleging text messages were deleted from WhatsApp, a smartphone application.
Sanger asked if Cole had an inappropriate conversation with Hudson on his cell phone after he had been drinking. Sanger then asked if Det. Cole called Husdon late at night after he had been drinking.
Det. Cole said he did not recall but said it is possible that they could have talked but said he has very poor cell reception at his house, so he doubts it.
Also taking the witness stand on Wednesday was Edward Chadwell. He built the home on White Court for Ruben and Susan Flores in 1991.
Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle asked him if he found the remains of any monkeys or ferrets or any human bodies on the property. Chadwell answered no.
The preliminary hearing continues on Thursday, Sept. 2, starting at 9:00 a.m.