A California man on trial alongside his son for Kristin Smart’s murder is accused of calling her names and helping his son move and hide her body, prosecutors said Monday at the Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas.
Paul Flores, who attended school at California Polytechnic Stae University with 19-year-old Smart in 1996, stands accused of her murder. Flores’ father, Ruben, 81, is facing charges of helping his son hide Smart’s body.
During opening statements, prosecutors also alleged that father and son didn’t bother to help during searches for Smart, “while her corpse” was under Ruben Flores’ deck.
“The evidence will show Kristin was murdered by Paul Flores, and that Paul Flores and Ruben Flores buried her under Ruben Flores’ deck,” San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said.
“And while the entire community banded together to search for Kristin desperately, Paul and Ruben Flores did not join in. You will hear Ruben Flores would tear down missing posters of Kristin—tore down her smiling beautiful face—called her a ‘dirty slut,’ all while her corpse was decomposing underneath his deck.”
According to the San Luis Obispo Tribune, prosecutors added that Paul Flores’ story changed multiple times during different interviews.
Several of Smart’s classmates previously told investigators that Paul Flores was creepy and would always linger around Smart, trying to get her attention, Kron 4 reports. The classmates added that Smart was always “too nice” to Flores because she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.
“He would stare at their group (of friends). He made their group uncomfortable. But Kristin was too nice,” Peuvrelle said.
The defense argued that no proof exists to show that Paul Flores killed Smart, adding that her body has never been located.
“At the end of this case, I’m going to ask you to review all the evidence to come to a true full verdict,” Peuvrelle told the jury.
“I expect you to find Paul Flores guilty for murdering Kristin Smart and Ruben Flores guilty for being an accessory.”
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.
Paul Flores told investigators that he accompanied Smart back to the Muir Hall dorm after the party, where she lived. He said 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 changed his story and claimed he got the black eye while working on a truck.
Eventually, Flores stopped talking to the investigators and obtained an attorney.
When investigators 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 was “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.
Frustrated and desperate for answers, Smart’s parents filed eventually filed a civil suit against Flores for “taking the body of Kristin Smart and secreting and/or destroying the body… in a hidden place in the County of San Luis Obispo.”
Flores’ family countersued the Smart family for emotional distress. A judge later ruled that the Smarts’ lawsuit could not proceed, due to the ongoing investigation, according to The Tribune.
Ruben was arrested in 2021 at his Arroyo Grande residence, on a charge of “accessory after the fact of a felony” according to San Luis Obispo County jail records.
Prosecutors allege that Smart’s body was once buried under the elder Flores’ deck, but her remains were recently moved.
According to court documents obtained by the outlet, authorities “are in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath (Ruben Flores’) deck at one time.”
“[There is] damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved.”
Prosecutors are adamant that Ruben Flores belongs behind bars, claiming that he helped his son cover up the murder.
“Ruben Flores has repeatedly lied over the course of 24 years and has been uncooperative with law enforcement with the specific intent of aiding Paul Flores escape prosecution,” Peuvrelle said.
“Ruben Flores has done everything possible to help his son, Paul Flores, keep the remains of Kristin Smart hidden. Additionally, due to the evidence gleaned from the excavation, it is reasonable to believe Ruben Flores currently knows the location of Kristin Smart’s remains.
Should he be allowed bail, it is a virtual certainty that he would use his freedom to continue his attempts to help Paul Flores thwart the prosecution in this case and continue to hide her remains.”
Paul Ruben’s lawyer, Harold Mesick, argued that the evidence against his client was “so minimal as to shock the conscience.”
Peuvrelle accused Mesick of ignoring key parts of the sealed evidence.
If convicted, Paul Flores faces 25 years to life in prison, while his father, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison if convicted, Peuvrelle said previously.
Video contains previous coverage of the case
Check back for updates.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Here is a previous episode on the case.
[Feature Photo: Kristin Smart/Handout]