A new evidence hearing has been scheduled for the suspects charged in connection with the 1996 death of California Polytechnic State University freshman, Kristin Smart.
Starting July 20, Paul Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, will appear in person at the San Luis Obispo County Superior Court, for a preliminary that should last around 12 days, NBC 6 reports.
Officials said that numerous witnesses are scheduled to testify during the hearing and the discovery will be presented. The hearing is expected to take place in person, but while it can be filmed, there will be no audio, according to San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Smart disappeared on May 24, 1996, after attending an off-campus party near Cal Poly. She called her parents that night at around 8:00 p.m. and left a voicemail. It was the last time they heard from her.
Fellow student Paul Flores told authorities that he accompanied Smart back to the Muir Hall dorm after the party, where she lived. He claimed he then left and walked to his own dorm room at Santa Lucia Hall.
Flores had a black eye while speaking to investigators at the time. He explained it happened after playing basketball, but authorities were skeptical of his story. Flores later claimed he got the black eye while working on a truck. Eventually, he stopped talking to the investigators and obtained an attorney.
When authorities brought cadaver dogs to the campus, the dogs reportedly made their way to room #128 at the Santa Lucia Dorm, where Flores lived. Two dogs showed interest in a mattress on the left-hand side of the room, according to court documents, which was Flores’ side of the room.
According to CARDA dog handler, Adela Morris, there “a strong possibility that a deceased body had been in that room.”
The Daily Beast reported in 2016 that the authorities once had the chance to arrest Flores on rape charges prior to Smart’s disappearance. Additional women reportedly came forward afterward and said Flores also sexually assaulted them.
One of the women said she contacted the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident, but Flores has never been convicted of any of the alleged assaults.
In March of this year and again in April, authorities spent hours searching Ruben Flores’ home. They used cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar while digging in areas outside of the residence. Investigators also removed an old Volkswagen from the property.
In April, Paul Flores was arrested and booked in the San Luis Obispo County jail on suspicion of murder. Ruben Flores was also arrested in April at his Arroyo Grande residence, on a charge of “accessory after the fact of a felony.”
Investigators then alleged that Smart’s body was once buried under the elder Flores’ deck, but her remains were recently moved.
“[There is] damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved,” court documents read.
Both father and son have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Kristin Smart/Handout; Paul and Ruben Flores/Police Handout]