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Paul Flores Pleads Not Guilty In Kristin Smart's Murder As Judge Sets Trial Date

Paul Flores and his father Ruben, who is accused of helping his son after the alleged murder, will stand trial next spring.

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

Paul Flores, the man accused of killing 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart 16 years ago, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and a trial date has been set for next year.

Flores, 44, is facing charges of first-degree murder after prosecutors alleged that he killed Smart in 1996 “while in the commission of or attempt to commit” a rape, according to the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office.

His father, Ruben Flores, has been accused of helping to conceal Smart’s body after she was killed. He’s facing his own charges of accessory after the fact to the crime of murder.

Both men entered not guilty pleas at a court hearing Wednesday morning, according to local station KSBW.

The trial is set to begin on April 25, 2022.

Smart had been a freshman at California Polytechnic State University when she disappeared on May 25, 1996 near her dorm room.

Her body has never been found but she was declared dead in 2002, CNN reports.

Flores has long been a prime suspect in the case because investigators believe he was the last person to see her the day she disappeared.

Flores, who was a 19-year-old freshman had the college at the time, had been walking Smart home from a party, authorities said.

Authorities arrested both men in April of this year after conducting searches of their homes.

"These charges mark a major milestone," District Attorney Dan Dow said at the time. "Today, we make the first move toward bringing justice to Kristin, her family, and the people of San Luis Obispo County."

After the preliminary hearing concluded last month and a judge ruled there was enough probable cause to move forward with the case, Smart’s family told Oxygen.com they were grateful by the “relentless efforts” of investigators and the District Attorney’s Office.

“Our family has always known that this was going to be a long, difficult and emotional journey,” they said in a statement. “We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin. She—and all who have worked so hard toward this day—deserve nothing less.”