Paul Flores Guilty of Murdering Kristin Smart

Father Ruben Flores found not guilty of being an accessory after the fact in 1996 murder
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 18, 2022 4:06 PM CDT
Updated Oct 18, 2022 4:40 PM CDT
Paul Flores Guilty of Murdering Kristin Smart
This undated photo released by the FBI shows Kristin Smart, the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo student who disappeared in 1996.   (FBI via AP, File)

This story has been updated with the verdict for Ruben Flores. More than 26 years after Kristin Smart disappeared from a university campus in California, longtime suspect Paul Flores has been found guilty of her murder. The jury deliberated for four days before finding the 45-year-old guilty of willful, premeditated murder, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports. Smart disappeared after an off-campus party on Memorial Day weekend in 1996. Prosecutors said Flores was the last person seen with the intoxicated 19-year-old, NBC reports. They said he murdered her during an attempted rape in his dorm room at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her body was never found. Flores' father, 81-year-old Ruben Flores, was also on trial, charged with helping him hide Smart's body. He was found not guilty of being an accessory after the fact, KCRA reports.

The father and son were arrested last year. San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said phone records showed that Paul Flores called his father the morning after Smart was last seen alive. In March 2021, investigators found a soil disturbance around the size of a casket and the presence of human blood under the deck of Ruben Flores' home in Arroyo Grande, about 12 miles south of the Cal Poly campus, the AP reports. Prosecutors alleged that the father helped his son bury Smart's body and later moved the remains to another location.

During the trial, two women testified that they had been drugged and sexually assaulted by Paul Flores, one in 2008 and one in 2011, ABC reports. Peuvrelle called him a "serial drugger and rapist." He said Ruben Flores' bedroom was a "trophy room" where detectives found "dozens and dozens" of items related to Smart, including posters put up after she went missing, reports KSBY. Paul Flores will be sentenced for first-degree murder on December 9. (More Kristin Smart stories.)

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