A California jury heard from a man Wednesday who testified that the accused killer of Kristin Smart joked that her body was at his mother’s house.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, suspect Paul Flores, who attended California Polytechnic State University in 1996 with 19-year-old Smart, stands accused of her murder. Flores’ father, Ruben, 81, is facing charges of helping his son hide Smart’s body.
Both suspects were arrested in 2021 after investigators searched Ruben Flores’ home multiple times. Investigators believe Paul Flores killed Smart at the college before hiding her body under Ruben’s shed. Smart’s remains have never been found.
Fox News reports that jurors heard from numerous people during court Wednesday, including Derrick Tse, who shared a dorm with Paul Flores in 1996. Tse testified that he joked around with Flores after Smart’s disappearance and accused him of being culpable.
“I said, ‘You probably did something with her.’ And he joked back, ‘Yeah, she’s at my mom’s house right now,” Tse said.
Tse added that Flores seemed serious in his remarks, looking Tse in the eyes while responding. He also testified that Flores’ behavior would often change while under the influence of alcohol and he would become “overly aggressive and confrontational with other people.”
Fellow student Trevor Boelter, who interacted with Smart on the night she disappeared, also testified Wednesday. He told the court that Smart introduced herself as “Roxy” and pulled him into a dorm room, where she kissed him and acted flirtatiously.
Boelter added that Smart then pulled him into a bathroom; her mood changed, he said, and she asked if she was “ugly.” Boelter added that when he left the bathroom, a guy with blonde hair and big blue eyes demanded to know what happened in the bathroom.
Boelter said the blue-eyed man laughed when Boelter told him nothing happened. Boelter later identified the man as Flores, although at the time, he didn’t know his name, NBC 6 reports.
Another student, Eric Wilkins, also interacted with Smart on the night in question, testified Wednesday that he saw her lying in a yard by bushes, talking incoherently, and dressed inappropriately for the weather.
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’ lawyer, Harold Mesick, argued that the evidence against his client was “so minimal as to shock the conscience.”
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.
Check back for updates.
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[[Featured image: L-R, Paul Flores, Kristin Smart, and Ruben Flores/police handouts]