The case is still scheduled to begin Apr. 25

SAN LUIS OBISPO—This morning, Friday, Jan. 21, Judge Jacquelyne Duffy reviewed Judge Craig van Rooyen’s decision that enough probable cause exists for Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores to go to trial for the murder of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. 

During Friday’s motion hearing, Judge Duffy ruled that Judge van Royen had sufficient probable cause to hold the defendants for trial and denied the Defense’s motion to set aside information. 

The father and son are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Smart was last seen with Paul leaving an off-campus party on Crandall Way in San Luis Obispo on May 25, 1996. Although her remains have never been found, Smart was legally declared dead in 2002.

Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested at their homes in April 2021, nearly 25 years after Kristin’s disappearance.

Paul is charged with her murder. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory after the fact, accused of helping hide Kristin’s body. Paul has remained in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail since his arrest. Ruben is currently out on bail.

After a month and a half-long preliminary hearing that ended on Sept. 22, 2021, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled there is sufficient evidence to move the case forward to trial. Paul Flores’s defense attorney filed a motion asking the court to throw out that previous ruling.

Their motion, filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in December, argues there was insufficient evidence to support a finding of probable cause and the judge’s ruling was illegal. It claims the prosecution relied on speculation and innuendo and lacked a coherent theory and that the witnesses were significantly influenced by publicity surrounding Chris Lambert’s podcast, “Your Own Backyard,” and a “social media-driven campaign to convict Paul Flores.”

The motion also attacks the admissibility of dog handler testimony during the preliminary hearing. Multiple dog handlers testified that their dogs alerted to Paul’s dorm room during a search on the Cal Poly campus following Kristin Smart’s disappearance.

It also claims that Paul Flores was not read his Miranda Rights when he was interviewed by investigators at the Arroyo Grande Police Department in June of 1996.

During the motion hearing, Paul Flores’s Defense attorney Robert Sanger began by arguing he had very limited time to file his motion. He then further argued the purple clothing Detective Clinton Cole wore during the preliminary hearing. Judge Duffy said she reviewed all 22 volumes of the preliminary testimony and is aware of the purple clothing situation. Sanger then compared the purple clothing to wearing gang colors.

Judge Duffy later listed a series of inconsistent statements made by Paul Flores as well as other information giving probable cause.

A trial setting conference is scheduled as a live hearing for Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 8:30 a.m., followed by a readiness conference on Wednesday, Apr. 6. The trial is still scheduled to start on Apr. 25 with a jury trial.