Ruben Flores, the man accused of helping his son hide Kristin Smart’s body after the college student disappeared in 1996, has been released from jail after posting bond.
Ruben was seen leaving the San Luis Obispo County Jail Wednesday night around 11 p.m. after a judge lowered his bail amount earlier in the day, according to local station KSBY.
Ruben’s son Paul Flores—who has been accused of killing the 19-year-old Cal Poly student after the two were last seen walking home from a party—remains behind bars without bail after he was arrested in the case last week.
Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen agreed to lower Ruben’s bond from $250,000 to $50,000 Wednesday after acknowledging the 80-year-old was “very ill” and likely not a threat to the public, The San Luis Obispo Tribune reports.
As part of his bail conditions, Ruben was required to surrender his passport, stay within San Luis Obispo County, obey the laws and submit to electronic monitoring.
District Attorney Dan Dow said in a press conference announcing the charges last week that authorities believe Paul, 44, also a student at Cal Poly at the time, killed Smart “while in the commission of or attempted rape” and then recruited his father to help him cover up the crime.
The college freshman’s body has never been found, but Sheriff’s Det. Clint Cole said in a county probation report obtained by the local paper that “biological evidence” had been found at Ruben’s home, suggesting a body had at one time been buried on the property.
In the same report, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle had argued against bail for Ruben, who has been charged as an accessory to the murder, suggesting that he might continue to try to hide evidence in the case.
“Ruben Flores has repeatedly lied over the course of 24 years and has been uncooperative with law enforcement with the specific intent of aiding Paul Flores escape prosecution,” Peuvrelle said. “The excavation below his deck at 710 White Court showed damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved.”
He added that Ruben had “done everything possible to help his son, Paul Flores, keep the remains of Kristin Smart hidden.”
“Additionally, due to the evidence gleaned from the excavation, it is reasonable to believe Ruben Flores currently knows the location of Kristin Smart’s remains. Should he be allowed bail, it is a virtual certainty that he would use his freedom to continue his attempts to help Paul Flores thwart the prosecution in this case and continue to hide her remains,” Peuvrelle said.
Defense attorney Harold Mesick argued, however, that there was little evidence to link his client to the case.
“The evidence against him in this case, your Honor, it is absolutely—if we can even call it evidence—it is so minimal as to shock the conscience,” Mesick said in court, according to the paper.
He also called the evidence obtained by investigators “more than ambiguous.”
The judge opted to reduce Ruben’s bond to $50,000 after noting that the maximum punishment for the charge he’s facing is three years in prison, time he could serve just awaiting trial, according to KOVR.
Van Rooyen said that “setting bail in something more than he can afford is a detention under the law.”
While Ruben is now free on bail, his son Paul remains behind bars without bond.
Prosecutors revealed in court documents obtained by the local paper that “dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his 25 years as a serial rapist.”
They argued that releasing Flores, who is facing charges of first-degree murder, on bond could be a threat to the public.
“If he were released from custody the court would be putting a serial rapist back on the streets and leave him free to victimize additional women,” Peuvrelle wrote in the probation report.
Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
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