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Kristin Smart's Dad Says 'Our Quest For Justice ... Will Continue' After Split Verdicts
Stan and Denise Smart, the parents of 19-year-old Kristin Smart, who was murdered in 1996, spoke at a press conference after Paul Flores was convicted of her murder but Ruben Flores was acquitted of accessory charges.
Following separate juries' decision to convict Paul Flores for the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart but acquit his father for being an accessory after the fact, Smart's family vowed to continue their quest for justice.
Paul Flores, 45, was convicted on Tuesday of the 19-year-old Smart's murder in 1996, after prosecutors presented evidence to the jury that, after promising to escort the intoxicated girl back to her dorm room after an off-campus party, he instead took her to his dorm room and killed her during a rape attempt.
A second jury in the case acquitted his father, 81-year-old Ruben Flores, of being an accessory after the fact. Prosecutors had alleged that the elder man helped his son bury Smart's body under a back deck at his home.
Her body has never been recovered, but she was declared dead in 2002.
The Smart family participated in a press conference following the verdicts.
"After 26 years, with today's split verdicts, we learned that our quest for justice for Kristin will continue," Stan Smart said, reading off a prepared statement by the family, San Luis Obispo NBC affiliate KSBY reported. "We appreciate and we are beyond grateful for the diligence of both juries, and our faith in the justice system has been renewed by knowing the man who took Kristin's life will no longer be free to abuse another family or victim."
"Without Kristin, there is no joy or victory with this verdict," he added. "We will never be able to hear Kristin's engaging laughter or revel in her embrace. Her hopes and dreams will never be realized; no form of justice can bring these back."
The Smart family also thanked the podcaster who helped bring renewed attention to the case.
"Finally, we are also thankful for the selfless contributions of Chris Lambert," Smart said. "His 'Your Own Backyard' podcast brought not only new information, but much needed light and attention in our darkest hours by sharing Kristin's voice and story."
"We hope this verdict helps deliver not just answers, but also a peace and sense of closure that have eluded us for 26 years," he added.
Police also vowed to keep searching for Kristin Smart's remains.
"This case will not be over until Kristin is returned home, and we have committed to that from the beginning," San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters, according to the Associated Press. "We don't take a breath. We do not put this aside."
Outside the courthouse, Ruben Flores also spoke to reporters, denying that either he or his son had anything to do with the disappearance of Kristin Smart.
"We don’t know what happened to their daughter," he said, according to the AP, claiming the case against him and Paul Flores was about feelings rather than facts.
Paul Flores is due to be sentenced on Dec. 9, and faces 25 year to life in prison.