Kristin Smart trial begins: man accused of 1996 killing hid her body, prosecutors allege

Jul 19, 2022, 12:26 PM | Updated: 4:11 pm
Paul Flores listens during his murder trial in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, Calif., M...
Paul Flores listens during his murder trial in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, Calif., Monday, July 18, 2022. Flores is accused of the murder of Kristin Smart and opening statements were expected Monday. Smart is still missing, but the man last seen with her at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in 1996 is on trial more than a year after he was arrested on a murder charge along with his father, who is accused of helping hide her body. (Daniel Dreifuss/Monterey County Weekly via AP, Pool)
(Daniel Dreifuss/Monterey County Weekly via AP, Pool)

(CNN) — Opening statements began Monday in the trial of a California father and son charged in connection with the death of college student Kristin Smart in 1996.

Prosecutors alleged in court Monday that blood was found in the soil outside a home belonging to Ruben Flores, who is accused of helping his son hide Smart’s body, according to CNN affiliate KSBY.

Paul Flores, 45, is charged with first-degree murder for allegedly killing Smart in his dorm room while he and the victim were students at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. His father is charged as an accessory in the murder. Prosecutors allege he helped his son move Smart’s body to his home in Arroyo Grande, where prosecutors believe it was buried for a time under the deck. Both have pleaded not guilty.

During the opening statements, San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said he believes Paul Flores murdered Smart in his dorm room and later hid the body, KSBY reports.

Prosecutors previously alleged that Paul Flores killed Smart while raping or attempting to rape her.

The two men were arrested in April 2021, nearly 25 years after Smart’s disappearance. She was declared dead in 2002, though her body has not been found.

Officials have said Paul Flores, who was a 19-year-old freshman at the time, walked Smart home on the day of her disappearance and was the last person to see her that day. Smart was also a 19-year-old freshman.

The father and son are being tried at the same time, but have separate juries, KSBY reported. Audio and video recordings of the trial are not allowed, and Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe is only permitting still photography of the proceedings.

The trial is being held in Monterey County after a judge who was overseeing the case in San Luis Obispo County ruled widespread publicity and significant attention on the case would likely prevent the Flores’ from receiving a fair trial in San Luis Obispo, the affiliate said.

Peuvrelle told jurors Monday that several searches of Ruben Flores’ home turned up soil samples that tested positive for human blood. He also presented photos of Paul Flores’ dorm room and said multiple cadaver dogs alerted to the smell of human remains while searching the building, according to KSBY.

The affiliate also reported that audio of a phone call between Paul Flores and his mother, which was obtained through a wiretapping warrant, was also played in court.

In one audio clip played by Peuvrelle, Paul Flores’ mother Susan Flores refers to the “Your Own Backyard” podcast, which examined Smart’s disappearance and raised public interest in the case. In the clip, she tells her son, “I need you start to listening to the podcast … I need you to poke holes in it where you can,” according to KSBY.

In his opening statement, Paul Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger said the audio clip was part of a longer conversation and does not admit wrongdoing, according to KSBY. The attorney also reportedly criticized the prosecution’s lack of eyewitnesses and physical or forensic evidence and portrayed Smart as a young woman who was known to disappear with friends.

Ruben Flores’ defense is expected to provide its opening statement Tuesday, the affiliate reported.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

CNN Illustration/Getty Images...
Tierney Sneed and Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Appeals court says House can obtain Trump’s taxes from the IRS

A federal appeals court on Tuesday signed off on a House Ways and Means Committee request to obtain former President Donald Trump's tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.
12 hours ago
President Joe Biden holds up the bill after signing the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 during a cere...
Associated Press

Biden signs $280B CHIPS act in bid to boost US over China

President Joe Biden has signed a $280 billion bipartisan bill to boost domestic high-tech manufacturing and boost U.S. competitiveness over China.
12 hours ago
FILE: Serena Williams of The United States celebrates victory during the Ladies Singles second roun...
Associated Press

Serena Williams says she is ‘evolving away from tennis’

Serena Williams says she is preparing to step away from tennis after winning 23 Grand Slam titles, turning her focus to having another child and her business interests.
12 hours ago
The USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier arrives at the French Mediterranean port of Marseille in J...
Ellie Kaufman, CNN

US Navy recovers jet blown off aircraft carrier from bottom of ocean

A U.S. Navy team recovered a military jet from a depth of 9,500 feet in the Mediterranean Sea on August 3 after the aircraft had blown overboard during "unexpected heavy weather" in July, a release from U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa said.
1 day ago
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC...
ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

Trump says FBI searched estate in major escalation of probe

The FBI searched Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate as part of an investigation into whether he took classified records from the White House to his Florida residence.
1 day ago
Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta attend the "Grease" 40th anniversary screening in August 2018 ...
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN

John Travolta pays tribute to Olivia Newton-John

Actor John Travolta, who co-starred with Olivia Newton-John in the hit movie musical "Grease," has posted a statement in tribute to the late singer.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Kristin Smart trial begins: man accused of 1996 killing hid her body, prosecutors allege