Jury now deliberating Paul Flores’ fate

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — It has been 26 years since Kristin Smart’s initial disappearance, and on Tuesday, Oct. 4, attorney’s finished closing arguments for Paul Flores in the trial for her murder — and now the jury deliberates on his fate.

Paul Flores is charged for the 1996 murder and disappearance of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. His father, Ruben Flores, is charged with helping his son cover up the crime. They were both arrested in April 2021.

Opening statements in the trial started on July 18 in the Monterey County Superior Courtroom in Salinas.

Both the defense and prosecution rested their cases last week, beginning their closing arguments on Monday, Oct. 3. While they concluded their arguments for Paul on Tuesday, they will continue their closing arguments for Ruben on Wednesday.

According to reports from KSBY, on Monday the prosecution told jurors the “truth is, Kristin Smart is dead and the evidence is clear that she was killed by Paul Flores.”

The prosecution continued to lay out its theory for what happened to Kristin, alleging that Paul killed Kristin sometime Saturday morning after the party on Crandall Way and called his father to help him hide her body. 

KSBY reports that San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle told jurors to find Paul guilty of first-degree murder, they have to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Kristin died while Paul was either raping or attempting to rape her. 

He further explained that while they do not have a body, they do have blood, which was found in soil taken from underneath Ruben’s deck in Arroyo Grande. Peuvrelle reviewed evidence covered throughout the trial and replayed videos of Paul in interviews during the early days of the investigation.

Present in court on Monday was San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson and District Attorney Dan Dow.

Paul’s defense lawyer, Robert Sanger, countered, saying there is no evidence of murder.

The defense continued its closing arguments on Tuesday where they questioned the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses.

According to reports, Sanger addressed the jurors about two witnesses who alleged Paul raped or attempted to rape them. He went on to tell the jurors Paul was “charged with murder, not rape or attempted rape.”

Additionally, reports say that Sanger declared there was too much publicity in the case and that something happened to Kristin, but no one knows what.

KSBY reports, during the prosecution’s rebuttal, Peuvrelle told jurors, “The only at-risk behavior Kristin Smart participated in that night was existing in the same zip code as Paul Flores.”

Once Peuvrelle finished his rebuttal, Paul’s jury was sent to begin their deliberations. Ruben’s jury were then given their instructions. His closing arguments are set to begin Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe has previously told the courtroom that once verdicts are reached in both cases, they will be announced at the same time.

While Kristin’s remains have not been found, she was legally declared dead in 2002. The trial was moved to Salinas after San Luis Obispo County Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled the father and son would not receive a fair trial in SLO County. While Paul and Ruben are being tried together, they have separate juries. 

Paso Robles Press  will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.

Feature Photo: DDA Chris Peuvrelle presents closing arguments in the months-long Kristin Smart murder trial. Pool Photo by Laura Dickinson/The Tribune