After an off-campus party, Mr. Flores, a fellow student, escorted the California student to the dormitory, where he disappeared. She vanished without a trace.
A jury in California on Tuesday found fellow student Paul Flores guilty of killing Kristin Smart, a California Polytechnic State University student who vanished after an off-campus party more than 25 years prior.
His father, Ruben Flores, 81, was found not guilty of aiding in the body’s concealment by a different jury. The remains of Ms. Smart have never been located.
The verdicts, which concluded a protracted case that started on May 25, 1996, when Ms. Smart and Paul Flores left an off-campus party at around two in the morning, were announced in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, California. He eventually admitted to the authorities that he had led her all the way to his hostel before parting ways with her.
According to court filings, friends who cooperated with police said she was intoxicated and that Paul Flores frequently assured them he could follow her to her dormitory by himself because she required assistance walking.
Ms. Smart, a 19-year-old freshman, vanished without a trace. Three days later, a missing persons report was made.
The father of Ms. Smart, Stan Smart, expressed gratitude to the two juries during a news conference on Tuesday, noting that despite the divided decisions, his family would still pursue justice.
Img Source:- NYTimes
He continued, “With more downs than ups, the case has been an agonisingly lengthy journey,” and “Without Kristin, there is no joy or gladness in this verdict.”
Law enforcement officers emphasised the case’s protracted quest for justice.
Dan Dow, the district attorney for San Luis Obispo County, asserted that “justice delayed is not justice denied.” Additionally, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson stated that the investigation will continue until Ms. Smart’s remains were discovered and she was “returned home.”
Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, declined to comment on Tuesday. On Tuesday, Ruben Flores and his counsel, Harold Mesick, expressed gratitude for the jury’s verdict to regional media.
When Paul Flores, 45, is sentenced on December 9, prosecutors indicated he will receive a sentence ranging from 25 years to life in prison.
The search for Ms. Smart after her disappearance in 1996 extended to her dorm room in Muir Hall, where detectives discovered her wallet and notes reminding her to turn in homework. Her family set up a billboard asking for assistance in finding her. Investigators investigated Paul Flores’ dorm room and spoke with him.
In 2002, Ms. Smart’s family obtained a valid death certificate for their daughter.
Paul Flores was identified as a “primary suspect” by the authorities in 2021, some two decades later, and search warrants were carried out, including at his Los Angeles residence. In order to explore Ruben Flores’s property in Arroyo Grande, California, investigators employed ground-penetrating radar and canines trained to find human remains.
On April 13, 2021, Paul Flores was apprehended at his Los Angeles residence and charged with murder during a rape or attempted rape. At his residence, Ruben Flores was detained and accused of being an accessory after the fact.
At the time, Mr. Dow, the district attorney for San Luis Obispo County, claimed that Paul Flores had “caused the death” of Ms. Smart “while in the conduct of, or in the attempted commission of, rape.” He claimed Ruben Flores assisted in concealing her remains.
The trials of Paul and Ruben Flores were not live broadcast, but throughout the past three months, they were extensively covered by regional media outlets.
Due to the intense media coverage of the case, the trials were relocated from San Luis Obispo to Monterey County, roughly 140 miles to the north.
Christopher Peuvrelle, a San Luis Obispo County prosecutor, said Ruben Flores had assisted his son by concealing Ms. Smart’s body under the back deck of his home during his closing argument earlier this month.
Mr. Peuvrelle offered several pieces of evidence, including soil samples, a 6-by-4-foot abnormality in the earth, blood stains, fibres that matched Ms. Smart’s clothing, and cadaver dog alerts.
Additionally, he claimed that Paul Flores had been “hunting” Ms. Smart and had gotten in touch with his father to request assistance in burying Ms. Smart’s body. There was a “lost individual,” according to Paul Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger, but there was no proof of a murder.
According to KSBY, Ruben Flores’ attorney Harold Mesick claimed there was no proof that his client had attempted to conceal the body.
Mr. Mesick remarked, “Paul Flores and his father didn’t bury this woman.
A new juror was sworn in and the deliberations were restarted on October 13 after one juror in the case of Ruben Flores was discharged for consulting his priest for advice due to the stress he claimed to be experiencing.
Ms. Smart’s parents, together with her brother Matt, gave testimony in July regarding their efforts to find her after she vanished.
According to the local Sacramento CBS affiliate, Denise Smart, Ms. Smart’s mother, testified in court, “For the following 25 years, I did all I could and looked for answers anywhere I could.”