Feature Image: Paul and Ruben Flores in court Aug. 29 along with their attorneys, Deputy D.A. Christopher Peurelle and detective Clint Cole. Pool Photo
SAN LUIS OBISPO — The Kristin Smart Murder Trial continues, and the jury has now heard testimony from a former girlfriend of Paul Flores and a woman who testified that Paul Flores sexually assaulted her in 2008.
Paul Flores is on trial for Kristin’s murder. The 19-year-old Cal Poly student went missing following the Crandall Way party over Memorial Day weekend in May 1996. His father Ruben Flores is accused of helping his son cover up the crime.
Court was back in session on Wednesday, Aug. 24, after going dark for a week.
The first testimony heard in court that day was from a woman — who will be referred to as “Rhonda Doe” — who told the jury that Paul Flores sexually assaulted her in 2008.
During cross examination, Rhonda said she attended Cal Poly in the fall of 1995 but dropped out in 1996 and lived in Grover Beach for a time. She told the defense she was unaware of the publicity surrounding Kristin Smart’s disappearance.
Rhonda met Paul in January 2008 at The Thirsty Club bar in Redondo Beach. Paul showed up at the bar on his bicycle around closing time. Rhonda told the jury that her friends invited Paul to hang out with them at her house, but Paul needed to go home first and asked Rhonda to walk with him.
Rhonda agreed and walked the 10 to 15 minutes from the bar to Paul’s house in Lawndale. She testified that during the walk she was alert. But once inside the home, Paul offered her a glass of water.
While drinking the water, Paul gave Rhonda a tour of his home. Rhonda testified that she lost consciousness shortly after entering the bedroom.
When she woke up, Rhonda says Paul was having non-consensual sex with her. She remembered a few brief moments, one of which was Paul asking her if she remembered his name. She later remembers waking up and crying beside his bed asking Paul to take her home, which he did.
Rhonda told San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle she did not report the incident at the time because she didn’t think it would be prosecuted.
Rhonda told Peuvrelle she reached out to law enforcement last year. She explained she was scrolling on her phone when she saw Paul’s photo when he was arrested. Rhonda said she believed it was the same person and contacted law enforcement.
She was later shown a six-person photo lineup in May 2021 and identified Paul Flores as the person who raped her in January 2008.
In May 2021, Rhonda was shown a six-pack photo lineup and identified this photo as the person who raped her in January 2008.
A former girlfriend of Paul’s testified in court on Aug. 25. Angie Carrizel told the jury that she dated Paul for two years in the early 2000s.
Carrizel recounted for the jury the time she went to Ruben’s home on White Court in Arroyo Grande. She walked to the back of the house to see some avocado trees and she recalled some dogs under the deck.
Carrizel says she was redirected back to the front of the house. She described Ruben as being rude to her and did not think he liked her very much.
Carrizel’s testimony continued on Friday, Aug. 26 — though, her testimony was cut short, due to an issue with evidence that was not further explained by the court. Her testimony last about 15 minutes.
On Monday, Aug. 29, the jury heard testimonies from the developer of Ruben’s home, a former roommate of Ruben’s, two investigators, and a neighbor of Ruben’s.
Ed Chadwell took the stand first on Monday. He was the developer for Ruben and Susan’s home. The two agreed to purchasing the home before it was built.
During his testimony, Chadwell confirmed for the prosecution and defense that there were no injuries from him or employees while building the home. The questions are presumably connected to evidence found in the soil under Ruben’s deck.
David Stone took the stand next. He lived with Ruben for 10 years as a roommate, from 2010 to 2020.
Stone recalled for the jury that Ruben became angry when Stone had stored some empty 55-gallon drums under the deck. Ruben made him remove the drums from under the deck.
Stone then told the jury of a time when he overheard Ruben say “Kristin” and “[expletive] slut” in the same sentence but added that it could have been any Kristin he was referring to.
Peuvrelle showed Stone a transcript from a 2021 interview with Det. Cole where Stone said “Ruben always called Kristin a dirty slut,” but Stone told Peuvrelle that he did not remember saying that.
Detective Cole was then brought to the stand, where he confirmed Stone telling him about Ruben’s comments about Kristin. The interview was recorded, according to Cole. Stone was then brought back to the stand.
Although Stone says he voluntarily moved out, he says that he and Ruben did get along.
Detective Matt Terrell
Detective Matt Terrell described serving a search warrant at Ruben’s house in February 2020.
Terrell testified that while searching Ruben’s house they found newspaper articles, letters, and other items related to Kristin Smart, all located in Ruben’s bedroom.
Monday’s testimonies were wrapped up with Ruben’s neighbor, Jamilyn Holman, taking the stand to describe strange activity she witnessed at Ruben’s home in February of 2020.
Holman told the jury she heard arguing and other noise coming from the home where Ruben and Susan Flores and her boyfriend removed part of a fence and parked a cargo trailer next to it after dark.
She told Peuvrelle that she saw Susan at Ruben’s home quite often since the podcast “Your Own Backyard” was released.
During cross examination, Holman said she did not report the incident to authorities until March of 2021 but had told creator of the podcast, Chris Lambert, of the incident first and met with the Smart’s family attorney Jim Murphy prior to reporting it to detectives.
Tuesday, Aug. 30
Senior Deputy Sheriff Jason Nadal
Tuesday morning’s testimony started with a senior deputy sheriff, Jason Nadal, testifying about his involvment with the Febuary 2020 search of Paul’s home in San Pedro.
Nadal had taken photos of the home while serving the search warrent.
Detective Gregory Smith
Next to testify was SLO County Sheriff Senior Detective Gregory Smith.
Smith told the jury he received permission from a SLO County Judge to wiretap the phones of the Flores family in January 2020.
The courtroom then heard an audio conversation between Paul and his mother Susan from Jan. 26, 2020. This is the recording in which Susan tells Paul to start listening to the”Your Own Backyard” podcast so they could start “punching holes in it.”
Under cross-examination with Sanger, Smith confirmed there were nearly 10,000 phone calls intercepted from the Flores family between Jan. 5 and Feb. 3, 2020.
Smith later told the court the sheriff’s office’s strategy was to use Lambert’s podcast to leak information about the investigation to the Flores family.
Assistant Director for Santa Clara County’s search and rescue team, Kristine Black, was the last to take the stand on Tuesday.
Black was called out to conduct a canine search at Ruben’s home on March 15, 2021, with the canine Annie.
She explained to the court that on that day Annie searched a Volkswagon in front of the home but did not identify the scent of human remains there. Black also confirmed that Annie did not alert to any human remains in the backyard.
However, Black told the court that Annie did beginning sniffing for human remains throughout the deck of the property but did not give a final alert of human remains.
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 will have separate juries.
Testimonies are to resume on Wednesday, Aug. 31. The trial is expected to last into October.
Paso Robles Press will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.