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Man Convicted in Murder of California College Student Kristin Smart Faces Sentencing

The former California Polytechnic State University student convicted of killing Kristin Smart on the Central Coast campus more than 25 years ago will be sentenced Friday in his murder trial.

Flores was found guilty of first-degree murder in October. He faces 25 years to life in state prison.

Smart was 19 when she disappeared after an off-campus party in 1996. Her remains have never been found, leaving her grieving family with questions for decades.

She was declared legally dead in 2002.

Paul Flores, 46, as the last person seen with Smart on May 25, 1996, as he walked with her to her dorm after a party off campus, witnesses said. Prosecutors said he killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room.

Flores and his father Ruben were arrested in 2021. Ruben Flores, 81, was charged in a separate trial as an accessory for allegedly helping to bury the body.

He was found not guilty at his trial.

Smart’s family spoke after the October split-verdict.

“Without Kristin, there’s no joy or happiness in this verdict,” Smart’s father, Stan Smart, said at a news conference after the hearing. “After 26 years, with today’s split verdict, we learned that our quest for justice for Kristin will continue.”

He described the case as a long and agonizing journey.

“This case will not be over until Kristin is returned home, and we have committed to that from the beginning,” he said. “We don’t take a breath. We do not put this aside.”

During the preliminary hearing, prosecutors presented evidence from dog handlers who said their cadaver dogs stopped at Flores’ room and alerted to the scent of death near his bed. Archaeologists who used ground penetrating radar and dug up the soil beneath Ruben Flores’ back deck, said they found indications the soil had been disturbed in a way similar to a gravesite.

Court documents submitted as part of a bail review hearing in April 2021, when the Flores were arrested, indicated investigators at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department had biological evidence indicating Smart was once buried under Ruben Flores’ deck behind his home in Arroyo Grande, about 12 miles south of the college campus.

When Paul Flores first spoke with police, he downplayed his interactions with Smart at the party and on the walk home. He said she walking to her dorm under her own power, though other witnesses said Flores was helping hold her up and she had been passed out earlier in the night.

Witnesses called to testify included Smart’s parents, college friends, forensic analysts, detectives, and acquaintances of Paul Flores. Some provided details about conversations he had with them around the time Smart disappeared.

The son’s defense attorney, Robert Sanger, tried to convince jurors someone else killed Smart. He noted that Scott Peterson, who was later convicted of killing his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying, also was a Cal Poly SLO student at the time of Smart’s disappearance.


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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