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Kristin Smart Murder Trial: All The Key Witness Testimony So Far
As the Kristin Smart trial continues, numerous witnesses have testified about Paul Flores' interactions with the slain college student before her 1996 disappearance.
Smart, a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University, vanished on May 25, 1996. She was last seen walking home from an off-campus party with classmate Paul Flores, who's now charged with murdering her. Prosecutors allege he killed her during an attempted rape in his dorm room.
His father, Ruben Flores, is accused of helping dispose of Smart’s remains, which have never been found. Prosecutors believe Ruben Flores helped bury Smart in the backyard of his Arroyo Grande home before later digging her remains up to move them to another location.
Smart was declared legally dead in 2002. Both Flores men were arrested in April 2021 following a lengthy investigation. Paul, now 44, has been charged with first-degree murder. His 81-year-old father has been charged with accessory after the fact to the crime of murder. Both men have pleaded not guilty. The father and son, while being tried together, each have separate juries who will return individual verdicts.
Here are some of the key witnesses who have testified so far in the trial:
David Stone, a man who had lived as a roommate with Ruben for 10 years beginning in 2010, took the stand Aug. 29 to testify about several incidents he recalled while living on the property.
On one occasion, Stone testified that he overheard Ruben mention Smart and refer to her as an “(expletive) slut,” KSBY reports. He also testified that on another occasion Ruben had gotten angry that he stored some plastic barrels under the deck without permission and he was forced to relocate the barrels. Stone also recalled another time when a plumber had come to fix a leak in the kitchen. Rather than let the plumber have access to an area under the house, Stone said Ruben told the plumber to leave, according to KEYT.
Under cross examination, Stone described having gotten along well with Ruben and said he chose to leave in 2020 due to his own volition.
Ruben’s neighbor Jamilyn Holman was the last to take the stand Aug. 29. She testified that on Feb. 9, 2020 she heard loud arguing from Ruben, his ex-wife Susan Flores and Susan’s boyfriend overnight as they removed a part of fence on the property and parked a cargo trailer next to the house, KSBY reports.
Under cross examination, Holman admitted to meeting with the Smart family attorney, Jim Murphy, before she ever reported the incident to detectives in March of 2021. She also testified that she was aware of the “Your Own Backyard” podcast and knew that the Flores home had been searched by the FBI on Feb. 5, days before the alleged overnight incident.
Paul Flores’ former girlfriend Angie Carrizel took the stand Aug. 25 to testify about a strange encounter she said she had in the backyard of Ruben Flores’ home in the early 2000s.
Carrizel, who dated Flores for about two years during that time frame, testified that she had met Paul’s parents, Ruben and Susan Flores, at Ruben’s Arroyo Grande home. While there, she recalled wanting to pick an avocado from the avocado trees in the backyard but was redirected away from the yard and back into the home, according to KOVR.
“They did not want me there,” she testified.
According to Carrizel, who completed her testimony on Aug. 26, after the incident, Ruben’s demeanor toward her changed and she described him as being “rude.”
“It didn’t seem like he liked me,” she said, according to the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
She testified that there had been dogs under the “whole deck” under the lattice in the backyard at the time.
During cross examination, Ruben Flores attorney Harold Mesick questioned her about whether or not she had dressed nicely for a “dinner party” planned for later that night at Susan’s home. Although Carrizel said she was dressed “just normal,” Mesick asked whether it could be possible that Ruben had been concerned she might step in dog poop out in the yard.
“I don’t know,” she replied
A woman identified in court as “Rhonda Doe” took the stand Aug. 24 to describe an 2008 incident in which she alleged Flores drugged and then sexually assaulted her after she met him at a Redondo Beach bar, according to KSBY. The woman testified that she agreed to go home with Flores, who she described as polite, after a night out with friends in January of 2008. She said she blacked out shortly after he gave her a glass of water at the home and woke up to find Flores having sex with her as she drifted in and out of consciousness. When she regained consciousness, she testified that she was crying next to his bed and Flores took her home.
Doe testified she never reported the incident because she didn’t believe Flores would be held accountable and only changed her mind after recognizing Flores in a 2021 news report after his arrest for Smart’s death. After seeing his image on the screen, she said she was unable to breathe.
Under cross examination, defense attorney Robert Sanger questioned why Doe never told investigators that she had also been a student Cal Poly during the same time that Smart disappeared. She insisted that she had divulged the information to investigators. While in college, Doe said she had heard about Smart’s disappearance but never knew Flores was a person of interest in the case. She also testified that although she was able to pick Flores out of a photo line-up of six people, she hadn’t been positive he was her attacker at the time.
Mike Kennedy, who was the Cal Poly Campus Police’s lead investigator on the Kristin Smart case back in 1996, took to the stand on Aug. 8. He testified that he spoke to Paul Flores in his Santa Lucia Hall dorm room on the Tuesday after the Memorial Weekend in which Smart vanished. He wrote in his report that Paul appeared “very nervous,” and that he could see his heart beating through his T-shirt, Your Own Backyard podcast reported.
The report also noted that Paul had an injury below his right eye.
“Looked like a bruise or a black eye. An arc under his right eye, darker than the surrounding skin,” Kennedy’s report stated.
Paul blamed the injury on playing basketball over the weekend.
Two days later, Kennedy interviewed Paul again and noticed scratches on his knee, which Paul also blamed on basketball.
Kennedy testified that Paul told him that he did not find Smart attractive during that interview.
Tim Davis, a junior at Cal Poly in 1996, helped organize the off-campus party that Smart attended. He testified on Aug. 8 that he has been reliving the night for the past 26 years, KSBY reported. The party was initially intended to be a birthday celebration for two friends. However, he testified that several uninvited guests showed up to the event. Both Smart and Flores were among them.
Davis testified that he witnessed Flores and Smart falling to the floor together, a scene several others have also admitted to seeing while on the stand.
He detailed how the party got out of hand, so much so that he tried to break it up and send people on their way home. At that point, he found Smart lying face down in some grass on a neighbor’s property. He attempted to walk her and another female guest home. He testified that Flores “appeared out of nowhere” and started walking with them. He ultimately left Flores with the two women to walk home to the dorms together.
He admitted under cross-examination that at the time he had been annoyed that he felt like he needed to help bring Smart home. He testified that he had felt at the time that the teen had “leeched onto him” by trying to kiss and hug him.
Jeremy Moon, a high school friend of Flores’, testified on Aug. 8 that he met up with Flores the Sunday after Kristin went missing. He testified about the bruise on Flores’ eye, which he noticed as they met up. Moon said that Flores claimed he woke up with the bruise, KSBY reported. That would contradict what Flores had told Kennedy, according to the latter’s testimony. Moon also said he and Flores did not play basketball together until Monday, which Kennedy said Flores had blamed for the injury.
Under cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Sanger challenged that testimony. He noted that in an interview with investigators, Moon claimed he didn’t see any marks on Flores; Sanger also claimed that Moon told investigators in the past that he didn’t meet up with Paul until the following weekend.
Trevor Boelter was at the party the Smart and Flores attended before her disappearance and took the stand Aug. 3. San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked him to describe three interactions he had with Smart that night.
He testified that Smart approached him and introduced herself as "Roxy" before giving him an “open mouth” kiss and then leading him to a bathroom, KSBY reports. While in the bathroom, Peuvrelle testified that Smart twice asked him if he thought she was ugly and he said “no.” He said that she then went on to ask him who at the party she should spend the night with.
Boelter recalled that Smart told him that she needed to go to the bathroom so he exited the room, only to run into Paul, who with “authority in his voice,” asked him what had happened in the bathroom with Smart.
Boelter testified that he told Paul that "nothing" happened and that Paul laughed.
Boelter then recalled a second interaction with Smart: he said he intervened between her and a man — not Paul — that was seemingly making her uncomfortable.
The third and final time that Boelter and Smart interacted was as he was trying to leave the party. He testified that she grabbed his hand and took him out to the backyard; he recalled her being insistent on talking. Again, he testified that Smart kissed him. This time, he pushed her away, KSBY reports. As she walked away, he testified that he noticed her stumbling.
Paul's lawyer Robert Sanger, asked Boelter under cross-examination why he didn’t tell detectives about the interaction with Flores during a 1996 interview.
Boelter replied that he was only asked about Smart, noting that he had no idea that the man was Paul at that time. He added that the interview was conducted by phone so there were no photos to look at.
Eric Wilkins, who also attended the party, testified on Aug. 3 that he saw Smart passed out on the front yard of the house where the party was held, KSBY reports. He recalled that she wasn’t speaking coherently, dressed inappropriately for cold weather, and that he told her to go inside.
Jennifer Madeiros, who lived in the dorm located across from Smart, testified on Aug. 3 that she — along with Smart’s roommate Crystal Calvin Teschendorf and her friend Margarita Campos — all noticed Kristin was missing on the day after the party. She testified that they were worried, KSBY reports.
She said she called the San Luis Obispo police that weekend but was referred to Cal Poly campus police; Madeiros testified that they told her that it was Memorial Day weekend and to call back if Smart didn’t return by Tuesday. She testified that she called both police agencies again on Monday. Campus police did take down a report when she called again on Tuesday.
“The feeling of hopelessness grew each day,” she testified through tears.
Paul's dormmate in 1996, Derrick Tse, testified on Aug. 3 that he was out of town that weekend. He had left Friday to go to Oakland and didn’t return until Tuesday, when he learned about Smart’s disappearance.
He testified that Paul told him that he saw Kristin at a party and that he was the last person to see her.
Tse testified, “I made a joke -- you probably did something to her. He joked back, 'Yeah, she’s at my mom’s house right now,'” KSBY reports.
Under cross-examination, the defense asked Tse if he noticed any odors or stains in the dorm after he returned; he said he didn’t. He did say that Paul seemed more serious.
Steven Fleming, who was a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in 1996, testified on Aug. 1, and Aug. 2.
Fleming was a basketball player, and told the court that he bonded with Smart over both being tall; they lived in the same dorm building, according to the “Your Own Backyard” podcast, which has covered the Smart case extensively and was even credited by authorities for surfacing new information that helped lead to the Flores' arrests. He cried on the stand while looking at a photo of his slain friend.
He testified that on one occasion, it felt like Paul was “kind of like following Kristin.”
Fleming stated that he saw Paul standing a few feet inside the door of a study area and that Kristin was “back by, like, where the desks were.”
He testified that her body language showed “she was not okay with it.”
San Luis Obispo Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked Fleming if he saw Kristin Smart reciprocate Paul’s interest in her and he replied that he did not.
Under cross-examination by Paul's defense attorney Robert Stanger, Fleming was pressed about how much he actually knew of Paul before Smart vanished. Fleming admitted that he knew of Paul, but not by name, KSBY reports. At times, the former classmate appeared frustrated on the stand.
The lawyer referenced an interview that Fleming had with the FBI in 1999, asking him if he remembered telling agents he had seen Paul in Kristin's dorm room up to six times during the winter quarter. He then pressed Fleming on how he may have known such information, seeing as he may not have been living in the same building at the time. He noted that no other friend of Smart told investigators they had seen Paul in her room. Fleming said he did not remember, according to KSBY.
Harold Mesick, Ruben's attorney, asked Fleming why he had not contacted investigators with such information to immediately following Kristin’s disappearance. Fleming said he had a distrust of police and admitted feeling like a bad friend for not reaching out to law enforcement earlier.
James Camp, a district attorney investigator who also attended California Polytechnic State University in the 1990s, testified for the state on July 31.
Camp, who began working on the Smart case in 2021, spoke mostly about the off-campus house where the party was held, KSBY reports. He explained both the layout of the house and its geography, in relation to the campus. Furthermore, he explained the route that Smart, Paul Flores, and fellow classmate Margarita Campos took as they left the party and walked to the dorms.
Under cross examination, Sanger asked Camp if it's his job to exonerate potential suspects. He also asked if he had interviewed any other persons of interest.
Camp replied that had not questioned any other suspects besides Paul. He did say it was part of his job exonerate potential suspects when appropriate, according to KSBY.
Crystal Calvin Teschendorf
Crystal Calvin Teschendorf, who testified on July 31, became Smart’s roommate in February of 1996. She told the jurors that she and Smart were friendly but not close, KSBY reports.
Teschendorf recalled talking to Smart about parties they planned to attend that night. Teschendorf didn't expect to see Smart and her friend, Margarita Campos, because they were planning to go to different events. She said she became worried after Smart didn’t return to the dorm room.
Two days after last seeing Smart, Teschendorf testified she and several other residents of the dorm contacted law enforcement. Two days after that, when Smart didn’t show up to class, she contacted law enforcement once again. She testified that her level concern by this point was “very very high,” according to “Your Own Backyard” podcast, which has been present in the courtroom during the trial. She testified that, at first, law enforcement didn’t take her concerns seriously, according to KSBY.
”It had been four evenings, and she had never done anything like that when she lived with me,” Teschendorf testified, according to The Fresno Bee. “It was very out of character for her.”
Sanger attempted to challenged that, asking Teschendorf if she remembered a previous statement in which she sid that Smart would often stay out for 24-hour periods. Teschendorf responded by saying she doesn't think that statement to investigators was accurately written down.
“I just don’t believe I would have used the phrase 24-hour period as an 18-year-old,” she said, adding that while sometimes Smart would stay in another dorm, she would always known when.
Ross Ketcham, who was a Cal Poly basketball player in 1996, testified on July 25 that he spoke to Smart at the party in question. He testified that he “noticed Paul Flores staring at her from across the room” and that 45 minutes later, “Paul had his arm around” her.
On July 25, Smart’s fellow classmate Cheryl Anderson (which is her maiden name) took to the stand, according to tweets from the “Your Own Backyard” podcast. She had walked Kristin Smart back to campus — though not her dorm room — after the party.
She testified that Smart was "very intoxicated, her speech was slurred, and she was having trouble standing up.” She noted that Paul "appeared sort of suddenly” as she and a third friend were attempting to walk Smart home.
"He came sort of out of nowhere,” she testified, adding that Smart was unsteady and Paul was seemingly trying to help. However, she stated that "he had his arms around her, and was rubbing her arms up and down” and that he kept hugging her even though the intoxicated teen did not hug him back.
Anderson testified that she parted ways with Smart and Flores once they were all back on campus, as she lived in a different dorm — but not without confirming that Flores would accompany her friend the whole way home.
"I didn't think anything horrible was going to happen,” she testified.
Margarita Campos, a former classmate of Kristin, testified on July 25 testified that she and Smart initially attended a party together, but she headed back to the dorms earlier, SF Gate reported, a decision she expressed regret over.
Stan Smart, Kristin’s father, testified on July 24, and it led to testy interactions between him and Paul’s defense attorney, Robert Sanger.
Sanger questioned the father about whether he had ever showed up to Ruben’s home or followed him by vehicle, KSBY reported, specifically referencing an incident on Aug. 17, 1996, during which he followed Ruben as he left his home in a U-Haul rental truck. Stan admitted to following Ruben that day, saying he was "worried things were being taken from the home,” KSBY reported.
The lawyer also questioned him about whether or not he had made fliers in the 1990s that included an image of Paul Flores, information about his appearance, and details about Kristin's disappearance. He admitted to distributing them but not making them.
Vanessa Shields testified on July 22 about Paul’s interactions with Smart, Fox 11 reported. She was a college classmate of the slain teen.
She told the jury that, during a party weeks before Smart vanished, she caught Paul "staring intently" at Smart for minutes.
"He was creepy. Socially awkward," she testified.
She also testified that Smart “was beautiful and people were drawn to her personality.”
Under cross-examination, Sanger asked Shields if she remembered her interview with the FBI, conducted within a year of Smart's disappearance, KSBY reports. He asked Shields if she told them about her previous experience with Paul and she said she didn't remember. She testified that if FBI had asked her about Paul during her interview, she would have certainly told them everything that she knew.
Kendra Koed, a former Cuesta College student in 1996, testified on July 22 that she also attended the party in question. She alleged that Paul tried to kiss her several times at the party but she rejected him.
She also testified, according to SF Gate, that she noticed Smart struggling to walk. Koed stated that she saw Smart fall down, as Paul stood over her.
Koed told the court that she warned Smart about Paul and offered her a ride home, which she said Smart declined.
Under cross-examination, Sanger questioned Koed about her involvement in both social media efforts to locate Smart and her participation in "Your Own Backyard," KSBY reports. She admitted that she had been interviewed for Episode 2 of the podcast. Sanger asked if she felt that Chris Lambert, who runs the podcast, was dedicated to getting his client Paul convicted.
Koed responded by saying that, in her view, Lambert appeared dedicating to finding justice.
On July 20, following opening statements, Kristin’s mother Denise Smart took to the stand, where she broken down.
"I felt like the life of [my] daughter was of no value to anyone but her family," her mother Denise Smart testified through tears on Thursday, while discussing her interactions with investigators over the past 25 years, KEYT reported.
Denise expressed that her daughter was not happy at the college, noting that it "wasn't a fit for her," KEYT reported.