Defense will begin calling their witnesses to the stand
SAN LUIS OBISPO — The prosecution rested its case against Paul and Ruben Flores in the Kristin Smart Trial on Tuesday, Sept. 20, in the Monterey County Superior Courtroom in Salinas.
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.
Starting Wednesday, Sept. 21, Paul and Ruben’s defense attorneys will begin to call their witnesses though both attorneys attempted to request a mistrial from Judge Jennifer O’Keefe on Tuesday. At the end of testimonies on Tuesday, Ruben’s defense attorney Harold Mesick told the court there was no evidence linking his client to Kristin’s murder. Despite both attorneys’ attempts, the judge decided to proceed with the trial.
Before resting his case, Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle walked the jury through the case evidence from the beginning.
Court returned on Monday, Sept. 19, after a week-long break.
Forensic DNA Analyst Angela Butler returned to the stand on Monday to continue her testimony regarding a package she received from SLO County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole in March 2021. The package contained soil obtained from that month’s search of Ruben’s home.
According to reports, Butler testified to finding unusual pieces of soil in a variety of colors. She described tests she conducted on the soil samples — all six samples came back with weak positive results for blood. Butler went on to confirm for the court that she was able to confirm the presence of human blood in the samples. However, Butler says she was unable to pull DNA from the samples.
Butler told the court she received 13 positive blood samples from soil samples she received in March and April of 2021 but then testified receiving another package of soil samples from Cole in April 2021. Butler told the court one of those samples was negative for blood, but two of those samples tested positive for the presence of human blood. Other samples varied from negative to weak positive to positive for the presence of human blood.
On Tuesday, Butler returned to the stand to begin the cross-examination with Paul’s attorney Robert Sanger and Ruben’s attorney Mesick.
Forensic specialist Shelby Liddell took the stand after Butler’s testimony wrapped up. Peuvrelle questioned Liddell on a cargo trailer from Ruben’s property and bedding from a home in San Pedro, where Paul was living during his arrest.
SLO County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Nadal took the stand next, and Peuvrelle questioned him about the search warrant he served at Paul’s home. Nadal described a Dell computer taken from a sunroom in the residence and it was submitted into evidence.
SLO County Sheriff’s Detective JT Camp was brought to the stand to discuss a search warrant he served with Cole in May 2021. The search, as described by Camp, was to obtain buccal DNA swab samples. The meeting was pre-arranged by Mesick.
Camp explained to the jury that while Ruben was reading the warrant, he stated Susan Flores (Paul’s mother) and her boyfriend Mike McConville had committed no felonies, “only me.” According to Camp, Ruben then corrected himself to say he was the only one who was arrested.
Peuvrelle then played for the court an audio recording of Cole and Camp serving the warrant at Ruben’s home. According to reports, Ruben can be heard saying, “They haven’t committed no felonies, only me … I mean, I am the only one that has been arrested.”
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.
Paso Robles Press / Atascadero News will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.
Feature Photo: Testimony from a DNA expert marked the Sept. 19 day of the Kristin Smart murder trial at the Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas. Pool Photo by Laura Dickinson/SLO Tribune