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Jury Deliberations Begin For Father And Son Accused In Connection With The Disappearance Of Kristin Smart

Two separate juries are tasked with determining the fate of Paul Flores and his father Ruben, who is accused of helping his son dispose of Kristin Smart's body in 1996. 

By Jill Sederstrom
Paul Flores, Ruben Flores Arrested In Kristin Smart Case

More than 25 years after Kristin Smart disappeared from her college campus, jurors will decide the fate of her suspected killer.

Jury deliberations began in the months-long trial of Paul Flores, 45, the last known person to have seen Smart alive, after closing arguments concluded Tuesday in the case.

A second jury, tasked with determining a verdict for Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, began their deliberations on Wednesday, according to The Los Angeles Times. Ruben is accused of helping his then 19-year-old son hide Smart’s body after prosecutors believe she was killed during an attempted rape in Paul’s Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo dorm room.

Paul has been charged with first-degree murder while his father Ruben has been charged with being an accessory after the fact. Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.

Monterrey County Judge Jennifer O’Keefe has said her intention is to read both verdicts in the case one after another once the juries reach their decisions in the largely circumstantial case.

RELATED: Woman Cross Examined Over Testimony That Paul Flores Confessed To Killing Kristin Smart

Smart disappeared May 25, 1996 after witnesses say Paul offered to walk an intoxicated Smart home from an off-campus party. She was never seen again.

Authorities believe that Paul took the college freshman back to his own dorm room instead and killed her during an attempted sexual assault, then enlisted his father to help him hide the body under Ruben’s deck.

Smart’s body has never been found but prosecutors called witnesses who testified in the lengthy trial that soil under the deck tested positive for the presence of blood and there was evidence of an anomaly in the soil consistent with a body having been buried in the ground and then later removed.

San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle told jurors that the collective evidence in the case against Paul painted the picture of a man who was “guilty as sin,” according to local station KRON.

The community moved Heaven and Earth to try to find her. Paul and Ruben, they moved the dirt under their deck to hide her. Justice delayed does not have to be justice denied. We know now the truth. The truth is out. The truth is Kristin was plucked off the face of the earth by Paul Flores,” he said.

Paul Ruben Flores Ap

He pointed to testimony from Jennifer Hudson, a fellow teen who claimed Paul had admitted to killing Smart in 1996, as well as two female witnesses referred to in court as Rhoda Doe and Sarah Doe, who testified that Paul had drugged and raped them years after Smart’s disappearance in separate incidents.

“For crimes that happen in a bedroom, there are no witnesses. But ground-penetrating radar, a forensic archeologist and a lab supervisor tell us what Kristin could not. We don’t have a full intact body in this case, but we have her blood,” Peuvrelle said.

However, Paul Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger argued that there was no evidence to suggest that Smart had been murdered.

“There is no evidence of a murder so that’s really the end of it,” Sanger said in court, according to ABC News.

He argued that prosecutors had been unable to bring a case against Paul for more than two decades because “there was no evidence and there’s still no evidence.”

Ruben’s attorney Harold Mesick also honed in on what he considered a lack of evidence in the case, calling the allegations against his client “ludicrous,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

“What distinguishes this case from most cases is the lack of physical evidence,” he said, adding that Ruben had “not dug a grave in his life” and arguing that there was no way to determine whose blood had been found in the soil.

He also argued that the state had failed to meet their burden of proof in the allegations against the now 81-year-old Ruben and suggested that Smart may still be alive.

“There are no bones, no teeth, no body parts. Kristin Smart may be just missing,” he said. “She was not happy at Cal Poly. It is reasonable to infer she is alive somewhere.”

Yet, Peuvrelle argued that Paul that turned to his father after realizing he had killed Smart.

“He knew the one person who would help him with a dead girl on his bed was his father,” he told the jury. “It was his version of a 911 call.”