In connection with the more than 26-year-old disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, a jury on Tuesday found Paul Flores guilty of first-degree murder.
Ruben Flores, his father, was ruled not accountable for being an accessory after the fact. He had been accused of aiding in the cover-up of Smart’s corpse.
When the verdict of guilt was announced, Paul Flores did not respond. He was seated behind his father, who didn’t respond to the decision either.
There were also several members of Kristin’s family present in the courtroom. After the verdict was pronounced, her mother and sister sobbed for a while. The father and brother of Kristin seemed relieved.
Paul Flores was found guilty
When the guilty verdict was announced, Paul Flores remained silent, according to NBC affiliate KSBY in San Luis Obispo. Behind him in the chair stood his father, who showed no expression.
Many of Smart’s family members were present in the courtroom, and as the findings were announced, her mother and sister sobbed for a while.
Stan Smart, Smart’s father, remarked following the findings, “Without Kristin, there is no joy or gladness in this verdict.” “With today’s divided judgments, we learnt that our search for justice for Kristin will continue after 26 years.”
After the verdicts, Smart’s father, Stan Smart, remarked, “Without Kristin, there is no joy or gladness in this verdict.” “With today’s split verdicts, we learnt that our pursuit of Kristin’s justice will continue after 26 years.”
According to the prosecution, Ruben Flores’ house in Arroyo Grande may have a deck behind it where Smart’s body may have been hidden.
Prosecutors said that he assisted in Smart’s burial and then dug up and moved Smart’s remains years later.
Although Paul Flores had long been thought to be a suspect, it wasn’t until last year that the inquiry was restarted that authorities arrested him and his father.
Sheriff of San Luis Obispo County Ian Parkinson admitted mistakes made by investigators over time and gave Your Own Backyard, a well-known podcast about Smart’s disappearance, credit for helping to uncover information and motivating witnesses to come forward.
Over the course of two decades, investigators have carried out numerous searches, but they have just recently focused on Ruben Flores’ property, which is located about 12 miles south of Cal Poly.
Archaeologists working for the police discovered a soil disturbance roughly the size of a casket and the presence of human blood in March 2021 under latticework under the deck of his enormous property on a dead-end street off Tally Ho Road, according to the prosecution.
It would have been impossible to obtain a DNA sample from the blood. Even though a blood expert determined it to be human blood, the test employed did not completely eliminate the chance that it came from a ferret or an ape, even though court documents stated no traces of either animal were discovered there.
In a lawsuit filed on behalf of Smart’s parents, Ruben Flores is accused of moving the body four days after police raided his home in February 2020 together with unidentified accomplices, according to attorney James Murphy. Digging beneath the deck was not done by investigators until more than a year had passed.
After a 22-day preliminary hearing in which he discovered “strong suspicion” that the father and son committed the crimes they were accused of committing and that a grave that once housed Smart’s remains existed under Ruben Flores’ deck, San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig Van Rooyen ordered the pair to go to trial.
The evidence found was murky, according to Ruben Flores’ attorney Harold Mesick. He claimed that after it was excavated to build a nearby foundation, the soil underneath the deck was thrown there.
A jury member in the Ruben Flores case was disqualified on Thursday after he admitted to stressing out about the issue and discussing it with his priest for solely spiritual counsel, according to KSBY.