Judge van Rooyen ruled sufficient evidence was presented to move forward

SAN LUIS OBISPO — On Wednesday morning, Sep. 22, Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled sufficient evidence was presented for Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores to be tried for the murder of Kristin Smart. 

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. 

Getting through this together, Paso Robles

Although her remains have never been found, Smart was legally declared dead in 2002.

Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested at their homes this past April, 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.

The preliminary hearing began on Monday, Aug. 2. 

More than two dozen witnesses were called to testify, including current and former detectives, former friends and acquaintances of both Paul and Kristin, cadaver dog handlers, and soil experts.

Several people testified seeing Paul walk Smart back to her dorm after the party on Crandall Way.

Cadaver dog handlers who searched the dorms after she was reported missing testified that their dogs strongly alerted to Paul’s room. Forensic experts testified they found human blood in the dirt beneath the deck of Ruben Flores’s home in Arroyo Grande but were unable to detect any DNA.

Investigators believed that Smart’s remains were under Ruben’s deck and were recently relocated. 

During closing arguments on Monday, San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle said Paul Flores lied to cover up the murder of Kristin Smart.

Paul’s defense attorney Robert Sanger said there is no case against Paul Flores, and there is certainly no case against Ruben Flores. He said there was nothing found in this case that is real evidence.

Ruben’s defense attorney Harold Mesick echoed the same thoughts and said the prosecution has tried to paint “lipstick on a pig.”

The Judge said he has a strong suspicion that Kristin Smart was murdered and buried under Ruben’s deck. He based his ruling on the standard of probable cause, which is a lesser standard of proof than what will be used by a jury in trial.

Kristin Smart’s family has attended each day of the hearing, along with Susan Flores, who invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify on the first day.

Paul and Ruben Flores are scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 20.

After the ruling, San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said, “We continue to support the family of Kristin Smart as we work toward justice.”

In response to the ruling, the family of Kristin Smart issued a statement on Sep. 23 saying:

Statement from the Family of Kristin Smart:

Yesterday was a very good day and we want to take this opportunity to thank all of Kristin’s supporters in San Luis Obispo and beyond. So many people have played such important roles over the past 25 years, and we are humbled by the amazing support and generosity we have received. We want to especially thank the District Attorney’s Office for their relentless efforts.

Our family has always known that this was going to be a long, difficult, and emotional journey. We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin. She – and all who have worked so hard toward this day – deserve nothing less.