Southern California man, his father make first court appearances in Kristin Smart case

A 44-year-old San Pedro man, accused of murdering Kristin Smart, and his father briefly made their first court appearances in the case on Thursday, April 15, but they did not enter pleas to the charges filed against them.

Instead, Paul Flores will appear Monday afternoon, April 19, when he could enter a plea to a murder charge in relation to Smart, whose body has not been found nearly 25 years after she was last seen on the campus of California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo.

His father, Ruben Flores, 80, who appeared virtually from the San Luis Obispo County Jail wearing an orange jumpsuit and a mask, could enter a plea on Monday as well; he faces a charge of accessory after the fact, with the district attorney accusing him of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body.

Paul Flores, in custody without the possibility of bail, wore a gray suit during his courtoom appearance.

Shortly after Thursday’s proceedings, the Smart family issued a statement:

“After nearly 25 years of waiting, today’s delay in the arraignment process was not unexpected or surprising.  Make no mistake, we have begun the final quest to bring justice for Kristin.

“We know we are in good hands with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, and we will wait patiently for the process to commence,” it read.

Paul Flores, who grew up in Torrance and has lived in San Pedro for 10 years, is accused of killing Smart in his dorm room either after he had raped her or had attempted to following her return to campus from a party, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said on Wednesday.

Dow also said that prosecutors plan to use evidence of other sex crimes in the case.

Los Angeles police Capt. Jonathan Tippet said that two sexual-assault cases involving Flores have been presented to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Those cases were pending decisions on whether prosecution would be pursued, he said Wednesday.

Smart, a 19-year-old from Stockton, was last seen about 2 a.m. May 25, 1996. Flores was the last known person to see her alive. Both were freshmen at the university.

Flores told detectives she was extremely drunk when he left her, authorities have said, but he refused to answer further questions.

Ruben Flores lives in Arroyo Grande, where his son once did, within 20 miles of the campus.

Authorities have not disclosed what evidence they have to support the charges, but San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said during a press conference this week that physical evidence was found during the service of several search warrants at Paul and Ruben Flores’ homes as well as those of Paul Flores’ mother and sister.

Both men were arrested by San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office personnel on Tuesday.

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Author: Nathaniel Percy, Emily Rasmussen

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