Testimonies continue to lay out events of Crandall Way party the night of Kristin Smart’s disappearance
PASO ROBLES — After another delay, the Kristin Smart murder trial moved into its third week on Monday, Aug. 1.
Paul and Ruben Flores are on trial for the murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, who disappeared following an off-campus party over Memorial Day weekend in May 1996.
While Kristin’s remains have not been found, she was legally declared dead in 2002. Paul is charged with her murder and his father Ruben is accused of helping him cover up the crime.
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 will have separate juries. On Monday morning, one of Ruben’s jurors did not show up, so an alternate was selected at random.
Monday, Aug. 1
District Attorney Investigator James (JT) Camp was the first to take the stand on Monday. Camp himself attended Cal Poly in the ’90s, later became a DA investigator in 2012 and began investigating the Kristin Smart case in 2021.
Camp’s testimony focused on the layout of the Crandall Way house — the location of the party Kristin and Paul attended the night of her disappearance. He also laid out the campus and the route Kristin and Paul took on their way back to the dorms.
Crystal Calvin Teschendorf
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle then introduced Crystal Calvin Teschendorf as his next witness. Teschendorf was Kristin’s dorm roommate and described their relationship as friendly but not close.
The night of Kristin’s disappearance, Teschendorf said she and her friends made plans to go to a different party before parting ways with Kristin and Margarita Campos for the evening.
Teschendorf testified that she never saw Kristin again after that but became concerned after not hearing from Kristin and realizing she left behind all of her personal belongings. She and several other residents decided to contact law enforcement on Sunday, two days after they last saw Kristin, and again on Tuesday after she did not show up for class.
However, Teschendorf said law enforcement didn’t take her concerns seriously at first.
Next, the court heard testimony from former Cal Poly basketball player and friend of Kristin, Steven Fleming.
Fleming tells the jury he occasionally saw Paul in the Muir Hall common area, even though he didn’t live in that dorm or seem to have any friends that did. In Fleming’s opinion, it seemed that Paul was following Kristin, but noted he did not know Paul by his name at the time.
On one occasion, Flemming recalled that on his way to basketball practice, he saw Kristin’s door open and Paul was standing a few feet inside the dorm room and Kristin was near the back where the desks were. According to Fleming, her body language showed she was not OK with the situation.
Peuvrelle asked Fleming if Paul was memorable. He said other girls in the dorm would say Paul made them feel uncomfortable. Fleming testified that he never saw Kristin reciprocate Paul’s interest in her and that he never saw Paul in the Muir Hall again after Kristin’s disappearance.
Under cross-examination with Paul’s defense attorney Robert Sanger, Fleming said before they knew of Paul’s involvement and publicity, other students said Paul made them feel weird.
Tuesday, Aug. 2
Court resumed on Tuesday with cross-examination of Fleming, where defense attorneys questioned Fleming on why he did not come to law enforcement immediately following Kristin’s disappearance.
Fleming responded by saying he grew up in Oakland and was taught to distrust the police and not speak to them — which he noted as ironic since he later went into the military and then became a law enforcement officer.
But Fleming admitted that being silent through the investigation made him feel like a bad friend.
Former Cal Poly student Matthew Toomey was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday.
Peuvrelle asked Toomey to recall details about the Crandall Way house party the night Kristin disappeared.
Toomey testified that Kristin approached him and his roommate Ross Ketcham at the party. He recalled Kristin told Toomey that she thought Ketcham was attractive and asked if he had a girlfriend.
Toomey then testified that Paul came up to him to ask about his conversation with Kristin and Ketcham and said he had not known or spoken to Paul before that night.
When leaving the party, Toomey said he recalled seeing Kristin laying on the lawn outside of the Crandall Way house. He asked her if she needed help getting home, but Kristin rejected his offer and told him to leave her alone.
With minutes to spare, the final person called to testify Tuesday was another former Cal Poly student, Trevor Beltor.
During the spring of 1996, Beltor was a sophomore at Cal Poly and lived on Toro and Mill streets. He recalled arriving alone at the Crandall Way party after 10:30 p.m.
Beltor said that at the party, a tall girl came up to him, kissed him, and took him into the bathroom. He identified that person as Kristin Smart.
Beltor will continue his testimony on Wednesday morning.
The trial is expected to last into October.
Paso Robles Press / Atascadero News will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.