Man sentenced to 25 years in prison for Kristin Smart’s murder
A 45-year-old man convicted of the murder of Kristin Smart in California more than 26 years ago was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on Friday.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe called Paul Flores a “cancer of society” during his sentencing and ordered him to register as a sex offender, The Associated Press reported. The judge denied defense motions to set aside his conviction, acquit him and order a new trial, the AP said.
“Today, our criminal and victim justice system finally brought justice to Kristin Smart, the Smart family and our community in San Luis Obispo County,” District Attorney Dan Dow said in a statement. “We thank the Smart family and our community for the tremendous trust and patience they have shown in the investigation and prosecution of this horrific crime. Today, justice delayed is not justice denied.”
Flores, 45, has been convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Smart, 19, his schoolmate.
Smart, a California Polytechnic State University freshman, disappeared on May 25, 1996 after a party near campus. Testimony in court revealed that she was drinking and passed out in a meadow, but that Flores showed up to apparently take her home.
In closing arguments, Assistant District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle told jurors Flores raped or attempted to rape Smart, killed her, and hid the body with the help of his father, Ruben Flores. Authorities claimed that Smart, whose body was never found, was buried under the patio of Ruben Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande, California, and that the remains were moved in 2020.
“But now you know where she was all along, under her deck,” he said. “They treated her funeral with less reverence than a family pet.”
Ruben Flores kept people off that deck for years, he said. A separate jury cleared the elderly Flores, 81, of being an accomplice who helped hide the body.
Prosecutors brought forward expert testimony that evidence in the ground below the deck matched a body that was buried and removed.
Cadaver dogs also singled out Paul Flores’ dormitory among 120 others for signs of a dead body. Authorities said he removed the remains from his room during a four-day period in which he was not seen on campus.
Authorities said two women said Paul Flores raped them in the years after Smart’s disappearance. They testified that they were gagged with the same ball gag used on a woman in an image discovered on Paul Flores’ computer.
“Sarah Doe and Rhonda Doe tell us what Kristin couldn’t, that she was raped or that Paul Flores tried to rape her,” Peuvrelle said, describing the women using their pseudonyms in court.
Prosecutors claimed Paul Flores “hunted” Smart for months and often showed up wherever she was, including her dorm room.
Vanessa Shields, Smart’s friend and fellow student at Cal Poly, reportedly said she saw Paul Flores make small talk with Smart at a party three to four weeks before the disappearance, KCRA reported. She saw him “gaze intently” at Smart from across the room, describing it as “creepy” and “disturbing.”
Paul Flores also had various stories about a black eye he got back then, either at a basketball game or while installing a car stereo. However, during the trial, his attorney, Robert Sanger, described the state’s case as “conspiracy theories unsupported by facts.”
“He’s trying to solve a murder where there’s no evidence of murder,” Sanger said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
No DNA evidence linked Paul Flores to a crime, he said. No hard evidence linked him to the murder, he said. He construed this as circumstantial, with no evidence of rape or attempted rape.
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https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/man-sentenced-to-25-years-to-life-in-prison-for-killing-kristin-smart-in-california-more-than-26-years-ago/ Man sentenced to 25 years in prison for Kristin Smart’s murder