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A woman who testified that Paul Flores chillingly confessed to killing Kristin Smart broke down in tears on the stand Monday during rigorous cross-examination by the defense.
Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger questioned Hudson’s timeline of events, her involvement with the “Your Own Backyard” podcast about the case, her past alleged drug use and her alleged connections to a motorcycle gang, sending her — at times — into tears during the lengthy cross-examination, according to KSBY.
Jennifer Hudson told the jury last week that there was “nothing alive” behind the eyes of Paul Flores when he allegedly coldly admitted to killing Kristin Smart in the summer of 1996, shortly after the teen disappeared.
“Even after decades, his eyes are what made me believe it wasn’t a joke,” Hudson testified Thursday during the ongoing trial for Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores, who stands accused of helping his son hide the body, according to the Napa Valley Register.
Hudson testified that she met Paul Flores — who stands accused of murdering Smart — in the summer of 1996 at a backyard skate ramp when she was 17 years-old. While her boyfriend was taking a spin on the ramp, Hudson said she was sitting on a backyard patio couch with Flores and a third person when they heard a radio announcement asking for information in the Smart case.
That’s when, Hudson testified, Flores admitted to killing his Cal Poly classmate.
“That b---ch was a d--k tease,” Flores allegedly said. “I was done playing with her.”
He allegedly added that he buried the teen’s body “under my place in Huasna,” according to the testimony.
Hudson testified that Flores made the alleged admission with “no smirk, no smile,” and no tone to indicate that he may have been joking.
“He was 1,000% serious,” she said.
Hudson said she left the home a few minutes later, but didn’t tell law enforcement about what she’d heard at the time because she was “a scared 17 year-old kid,” the news outlet reports.
When she saw Flores again a few weeks later, she testified that she had been so disturbed she got physically ill and vomited, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported.
Hudson said she kept the alleged conversation by Flores a secret until a drunken conversation with her roommate Justin Goodwin in 2002.
Unbeknownst to her, Goodwin — who later took the stand himself — submitted anonymous tips about the alleged conversation on three separate occasions.
The former roommates reconnected in 2019 after Goodwin listened to the “Your Own Backyard” podcast about the Smart case and reached out to Hudson to encourage her to share what she knew, KSBY reports. Hudson agreed to recount her story to podcast host Chris Lambert before later going to law enforcement investigators.
Under cross-examination, Sanger grilled Hudson about inconsistencies in her story and alleged that she had been “on meth” when Flores had allegedly confessed — an assertion she denied.
She testified that she wasn’t on anything other than “maybe a little bit of pot” during the conversation, but did admit to experimenting with meth and “crank” that summer, according to The San Luis Obispo Tribune. She testified that she never did meth again after hearing Flores' alleged confession, calling it a "wake-up call."
Sanger also questioned Hudson about how much she had looked into the case on her own before reporting the alleged confession to investigators. Hudson testified that she had gone to the Huasna skate ramp property with Goodwin, Lambert and a real-estate agent before telling investigators about the confession.
She said she agreed to participate in the podcast because she hoped Smart’s body would be found, KOVR reports.
She began to cry on the stand after admitting that she felt “partially responsible for the Smart [family’s] suffering all these years.”
She called her decision to keep quiet her “only demon” that continues to torment her.
Ruben Flores’ attorney Harold Mesick questioned Hudson about whether she had felt she deserved money from the reward being offered in the case, but the judge sustained an objection by the prosecution to the line of questioning.
Goodwin then took the stand on Monday to recount what he recalled of his 2002 conversation with Hudson. Over the years, he said he submitted tips about the conversation to the FBI, the “Son of Susan” website (a now-defunct site dedicated to investigating the Smart case, so named because Paul's mother's name is Susan) and the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
Under cross-examination, Sanger also questioned Goodwin about alleged inconsistencies in his account. Goodwin allegedly said in his initial tip in 2002 that Flores confessed to Hudson while the two were doing meth, which she's since denied.
Prosecutors asked Goodwin to clarify what part he was sure about in his testimony during a re-direct examination. He responded that Hudson “told me she heard Paul say he killed Kristin.”
Smart’s body has never been discovered.
The trial against Paul and Ruben Flores has been going on for weeks and has included testimony from numerous witnesses as prosecutors build their case against both men.
Paul Flores is facing charges of first-degree murder while his father Ruben Flores has been charged with being an accessory after the fact. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
Although the men are being tried together, two separate juries will determine their fates.
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