Three previously sealed court documents were released following the hearing
By Camille DeVaul and Melissa Guerra
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Wednesday, Aug. 3, marks the third day of the preliminary hearing for father and son, Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores.
The two were arrested in April and charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
Paul is charged with murder and is being held without bail in San Luis Obispo County Jail.
Ruben is charged with accessory after the fact and is currently out on bail.
Both have pleaded not guilty.
The day’s hearing began around 9:15 a.m. Detective Clinton Cole took the stand, continuing where Tuesday’s hearing ended.
Tuesday’s hearing ended with Judge van Rooyen reviewing booking photos of Paul from Arroyo Grande Police Department (AGPD) taken on May 27, 1996. Paul was booked and released on that day for an outstanding DUI warrant.
Cole obtained a negative of the photo from Smart’s attorney James Murphy as the AGPD did not have the original negative. However, the photo has yet to be booked into evidence.
The defense, including attorneys Harold Mesick (Ruben Flores) and Robert Sanger (Paul Flores), made objections to the photo being booked into evidence.
Judge van Rooyen sustained the defense’s objections and said he would need to hear from witnesses who can testify seeing the bruise when the photos were taken.
The next witness to take the stand was Lawrence Kennedy, a former Cal Poly police investigator.
Kennedy, now retired, served as an investigator from 1995-2003. He reportedly began investigating Kristin’s disappearance on the Monday of the Memorial weekend in 1996.
On Jun. 21, 1996, Kennedy interview Javier, a friend of Paul’s. Javier said he lived in Santa Lucia Hall and had dinner with Paul a few times a week. During a dinner—believed to occur on May 28, 1996—Javier asked Paul questions about Kristin as he heard from others that she was seen with Paul at the party on Crandall Way.
According to Kennedy’s interview with Javier, Paul said he did not walk Kristin home. When Javier asked why Paul didn’t walk Kristin home, he said, “I don’t know.”
Kennedy said, “As I recall, there was an injury to the right eye—and I believe Mr. [Javier] asked him about how it happened.”
Paul told Javier he got an injury to his eye during a basketball game.
Kennedy then interviewed Paul’s roommate, Derrick, who was out of town during the holiday weekend and came home that Tuesday. Derrick told Kennedy that Paul said he walked Kristin back towards the hall and separated from her during an interview.
Then Derrick asked Paul where the missing girl is. Paul said, “she is home with my parents.”
On May 28, 1996, Kennedy spoke to Paul in his dorm room. According to Kennedy, Paul appeared nervous. In addition, Kennedy noted Paul had a mark of discoloration on his right eye.
On May 30, 1996, Kennedy spoke to Paul with an officer present in a Cal Poly office. That interview was recorded and played in court on Wednesday.
During the 45 minute interview, Paul referred to Kristin as “Roxy” and described her as flirtatious. Paul told Kennedy he hugged Kristin twice before leaving her. According to Paul, Kristin complained that she was freezing.
Kennedy asked Paul if he knew people called him “Chester the Molester.” Paul said he did not recall hearing that.
Paul told Kennedy he had two beers while in his dorm room and another on his walk to his sister’s house off-campus when he found the party that Friday night. However, Paul could not recall how he ended up with Kristin and two others later that night.
According to Kennedy, Paul was cooperative during the interview. Paul then tells Kennedy he was back at his dorm room around 3 a.m. and thought he saw someone in the hallway around 5 a.m. when he went to take a shower.
At the end of the recorded interview, Kennedy asked Paul if he would be willing to take a polygraph test, and Paul answers “yes.” Paul said he would get back to the police about a potential alibi and what program he watched the night Kristin went missing.
Next, Sanger cross-examined Kennedy.
Sanger questioned Kennedy on what he was wearing when he found Paul in his dorm room on May 28 and if his badge was visible. Kennedy said his badge may not have been visible but expects he introduced himself and his title.
Kennedy then testified that he did not observe any blood in the dorm room or on the walls on May 28. However, he added that Paul said he was nervous because he thought Kennedy was there to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for his DUI.
Kennedy then told Sanger he had never dealt with a missing person or murder case before. However, he confirmed for Sanger that he interviewed approximately 25 people before speaking to Paul on May 30.
Sanger continued with a cross-examination of Kennedy.
Referring to the People’s Exhibits 14 and 9 (colored copies of Santa Lucia Hall Room 128 on Jun. 24, 1996), Sanger asked Kennedy if he was present when the photos were taken. Kennedy confirmed he was with Detective Rick Neufeld when he took the photos.
Sanger asked Kennedy if he was aware of Cal Poly cleaning the dorm rooms. Kennedy said he was not aware of that happening.
As instructed by Sanger, Kennedy circled and initialed Sequoia Hall and Santa Lucia Hall on an ariel photo of the Cal Poly Campus. Kennedy then identified where Paul claimed he last saw Kristin.
Then Sanger brought up Paul’s comment to Derrick, saying Kristin was at his parent’s when asked about her disappearance. Sanger highlighted that Paul said this was just a joke.
Sanger proceeded to ask Kennedy about other potential suspects in Kristin’s disappearance, including a “Peeping Tom” reported by her roommate.
Kennedy was asked if he remembered Brian, a former Community Service Officer (CSO) at Cal Poly. Kennedy said yes and that Brian had walked the route from Crandall Way to the dorms. Sanger asked if Kennedy knew that Brian was reportedly at a party with Kristin. Kennedy said he was aware one of the CSOs said he was at a party with her.
Sanger then asked Kennedy if he knew Brian has now been charged with a sex crime. Kennedy was unaware of that charge.
Next, Sanger brought up Kristin going missing in Hawaii and chasing after a male friend and asked Kennedy if he ever spoke to her friend Alyssa.
Kennedy said that Alyssa told him when Kristin was in Hawaii during the Winter of 1995 for a reunion at Camp Mokule’ia, she was walking around with several men.
Peuvrelle objects to Kennedy reading from the next portion of the report, but Sanger insisted he or Kennedy should read it. Judge van Rooyen called a sidebar to discuss the issue privately in chambers at about 2:30 p.m.
Judge van Rooyen overruled Peurvelle’s objection and instructed Sanger to lead the witness through his questions.
Kennedy said that Alyssa described Kristin as “carefree, outgoing, spontaneous and boy-crazy” and disappeared several times at night and would return the next morning. Kennedy then confirmed that Alyssa told him Kristin would make provocative comments to males at parties.
The Judge then called a break that lasted almost an hour long.
While on break, Sanger, Peuvrelle, and Detective Cole looked for Kennedy’s original handwritten notes he said would still be at Cal Poly. Sanger requested to adjourn for the day and continue the next morning once the notes could be found.
Kennedy was then excused for the day.
Judge van Rooyen granted Sanger’s request to unseal a ‘Defense Motion to Traverse, Quash, and Suppress’ filed on Aug. 2.
However, Peuvrelle objected to unsealing the documents on the basis that the motions are not finalized as the People plan to file additional motions.
While the Judge agreed to unseal the documents, he did not unseal the warrant affidavits.
Peuvrelle stated the preliminary hearing is going slower than anticipated. He now expects the hearing to take as long as a month. Sanger agreed but said he might need to request a day off.
The hearing continues with day four on Thursday, Aug. 5.
The names of all witnesses mentioned will be addressed by first name only to protect their identity in accordance with court orders.