Witnesses from Crandall Way party testify
SAN LUIS OBISPO — After returning to court on Monday, July 25, the Kristin Smart Murder Trial has once again been delayed.
The jury, reporters, and court officials returned to court on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. with the plan to continue testimonies. However, shortly after Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe took her seat in the courtroom, she announced the trial would be postponed until next Monday.
Judge O’Keefe informed the court that a member of one of the juries could not attend trial due to an “unexpected emergency” and said they did not want to run through the case’s list of alternates.
The judge also said that, so far, the trial has been ahead of schedule and that the delay would not put them far behind.
Paul Flores, 45, is charged in connection to the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Paul was arrested in April 2021 — on the same day, his father, Ruben Flores, was arrested as an accessory after the fact, accused of helping his son hide Kristin’s remains.
Kristin was declared dead in 2002, but her remains have yet to be recovered.
Monday, July 25
Lindsey Smart Stewart
Testimonies heard on Monday started with Kristin’s sister Lindsey Smart Stewart, who told the jury about how close she was with her sister and the family’s close connection.
Next, Kristin’s friend, Margarita Campos, who also lived in the dorm room next door, took the stand.
Campos explained her relationship with Kristin, saying the two spent a lot of time together because Kristin did not get along with her roommate.
On the evening of Friday, May 24, Campos and Kristin parted ways in a parking lot just before Kristin walked to the party on Crandall Way. Campos did not want to go to the party, but Kristin insisted on going to find another party to attend.
Campos described the clothing Kristin was wearing that night as board shorts, a gray “baby tee” and red Pumas.
The two had been to one party that night that turned out to be uneventful. Campos recalls that at this point it had been at least three hours since Kristin finished her beer and she was sober.
The two had plans to study the next day, but Kristin never came and knocked on her door.
Campos said she relives that day often and said she wishes they’d stayed together.
Campos recalled seeing Paul Flores working at the Cal Poly Campus Store. She recalls Paul stood out to her because he would stare at her and Kristin when they went there to buy cookies, saying the interaction was uncomfortable.
Both Paul’s and Ruben’s attorneys questioned Campos about her involvement with social media sites supporting the effort to bring justice for Kristin Smart and the podcast “Your Own Backyard.”
She was heard in Episode One of the podcast and confirmed she spoke to the podcast’s creator, Chris Lambert, in 2018 or 2019.
Paul’s defense attorney Robert Sanger asked if Campos wanted Paul to be responsible for Kristin’s death. Campos replied that she wanted whoever is responsible for Kristin’s death to be held accountable.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle called Ross Ketcham to the stand. Ketcham was a Cal Poly basketball player in 1996 and spoke to Kristin at the party on Crandall Way.
Ketcham described briefly speaking to Kristin about surfing and noticed Paul staring at her from across the room. Later in the night, he saw the two of them talking — Paul holding his arm around Kristin.
Then Ketcham recalls hearing a loud commotion, which had been Kristin falling off a washing machine with Paul’s arm still around her.
Under cross-examination with Sanger, the defense points out that in his 2022 interview with DA investigator JT Camp, Ketchum said Paul was hanging by Kristin but never mentioned that he had his arm around her.
But on redirect, Peuvrelle shows Ketchum a detective’s report from 1996 and asks if it refreshes his memory about what he saw at the party. Ketchum said Paul had his arm around Kristin, and they were hugging a little bit.
Sanger asked Ketchum if it’s fair to say he can’t recall if Paul had his arm around Kristin or not — Ketchum replied no because Paul’s arm was around Kristin.
Peuvrelle then called Cheryl Anderson-Manzer to the stand. Manzer was a freshman at Cal Poly in 1996 and walked Kristin Smart back to campus after the Crandall Way party.
When the party was over, Anderson-Manzer said her friends had already left, but her friend Tim Davis offered to walk her back to her dorm. When they left, Davis found Kristin lying somewhere in the front yard and helped her up and the three of them were going to walk home, according to Anderson-Manzer.
She recalled Kristin was very intoxicated and as the three of them were walking, Paul appeared unexpectedly. Because she was no longer walking alone, Anderson-Manzer told Davis he could leave.
Anderson-Manzer recalls Paul stopping multiple times with Kristin, rubbing her arms up and down. According to Anderson-Manzer, Paul told her she could go ahead of them but she did not want to walk alone and waited.
Manzer testified that Paul asked her for a hug and a kiss before she walked away on her own. She said she refused his advances and then left Paul with Kristin — a decision she says she regrets.
Paul is charged with murder and faces a sentence of 25 years to life. Ruben is charged as an accessory and if convicted, faces up to three years in jail.
The trial is set to resume on Monday, Aug. 1, at 8:30 a.m.