Kristen Smart murder trial set to begin this summer

Posted at 2:34 PM, June 1, 2022 and last updated 9:48 AM, October 21, 2022

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KSBY) — Opening statements in the Kristin Smart murder trial are set to take place in July.

Paul and Ruben Flores have been awaiting trial since a judge last September ruled to move forward with the charges against them.

This combination photo shows suspects Paul Flores (L) and Ruben Flores (R), who were arrested Tuesday, April 13, 2021, for the murder of Kristin Smart. Flores, the longtime suspect in the 25-year-old disappearance of the California college student was arrested Tuesday, April 13, 2021, on suspicion of murder, and his father was booked in jail as an accessory to the crime. Flores, 44, who was the last person seen with Smart on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo before she vanished in 1996, was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Paul is facing a single count of murder in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory.

Monterey County jurors will be deciding their fate after a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge granted a change of venue motion in March, citing his belief that the pair would not receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County due to the county’s size and years of publicity for the case.

Pre-trial motions are set to begin next week, with jury selection starting June 20. If all goes as planned, opening statements would begin July 6.

Two juries are being selected – one for Paul’s case and another for Ruben’s case.

Due to a protective order still in effect for the case, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office was unable to confirm whether Paul, who has been in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail since his April 2021 arrest, would be housed at the Monterey County Jail during the trial, but did say that transporting him from San Luis Obispo County to Monterey County each day would be “very inefficient.”

Ruben is currently out of custody.

Paul Flores and Kristin Smart were both students at Cal Poly when Smart disappeared. She was last seen walking back to the dorms with Flores after an off-campus party on the early morning of May 25, 1996. While her body has never been found, Smart was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002.

If convicted, Paul faces a sentence of 25-years-to-life, while Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years.

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