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Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss Murder Charges Against Kristin Smart's Accused Killer Over Podcast
A defense attorney for Paul Flores, accused of the murder of Kristin Smart, argued in an effort to get the case dismissed that a San Luis Obispo County Sheriff detective had provided "disinformation" to an unnamed podcast. The judge denied his request.
A judge has denied a motion to dismiss the charges against the man accused of killing missing college student Kristin Smart over a true-crime podcast.
Pre-trial motions began Monday in the Salinas, California courthouse where Paul Flores stands accused of killing 19-year-old Smart back in 1996, according to ABC and NBC Santa Barbara affiliate KEYT-TV. The defendant’s attorney, Robert Sanger, moved to have the murder charges thrown out based on “outrageous government conduct.”
Sanger argued there was “disinformation” that was “purposely disseminated” by San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole, who allegedly turned information over to a podcast not named in court in order to promote a conversation among the suspect’s relatives.
Monterey County Superior Judge Jennifer O’Keefe denied the defense’s motion.
The true-crime podcast “Your Own Backyard” breathed new life into the Kristin Smart story and was credited by investigators for breaking the case wide open, which resulted in the arrest of Paul Flores, 44, and Ruben Flores, 80.
Her remains have never been found.
Ruben Flores — who is out on bond — was seen leaving the Monterey County courthouse on Monday, according to NBC Salinas affiliate KSBW.
Kristin Smart was a freshman at the California Polytechnic State University when she disappeared near her dorm room on May 25, 1996. Authorities had long-suspected Paul Flores — also a 19-year-old freshman at the school — after detectives learned he was the last person to be with Smart. Witnesses said he was supposed to walk her home from an off-campus fraternity party, but she was never seen again.
Prosecutors believe Paul Flores murdered Smart during the commission of a rape or attempted rape and that his father helped him dispose of her body.
She was declared legally dead in 2002.
Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested in connection with Smart’s murder in April 2021 after investigators found “items of interest” in multiple homes lived in by the Flores family. Leaked documents revealed authorities’ belief that Smart had been buried underneath a deck of Ruben Flores’ home and moved shortly before the arrests.
Paul Flores was charged with first-degree murder, while his father was charged with accessory after the fact. Both men entered pleas of not guilty.
On Monday, Judge O’Keefe tentatively ruled that the murder trial enlist dual juries, one for each defendant. That's due to Paul Flores’s 1996 statements to investigators that could potentially implicate his father, according to the Modesto Bee. O’Keefe has yet to definitively rule on the decision.
The suspects’ trial was originally slated to take place in San Luis Obispo County — where the alleged crimes took place — but was moved to Monterey County in April due to pretrial publicity, as reported by the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
Attorneys previously tried and failed in San Luis Obispo County to have the charges against the men dismissed on the grounds of little evidence, according to the Modesto Bee.
Pre-trial motions in Paul Flores’ case are expected to continue into Friday before moving into the jury selection phase, which is expected to last several weeks, according to KEYT-TV. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin on July 6.