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Paul Flores has been found guilty of murdering college student Kristin Smart in 1996, providing resolution to a decades-old crime and an end to years of speculation that he had been responsible.
On Monday, a California jury convicted Flores of first-degree murder.
However, a second jury, tasked with deliberating the charges against Paul's father, Ruben Flores, who was accused of helping his son cover up Smart's murder, acquitted the elder Flores.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe announced on Monday that the jury considering the charges against Ruben Flores, 81, had reached its verdict, CBS News reported. On Tuesday, the jury deliberating Paul Flores' charges announced they had also reached a verdict.
The verdicts comes days after one of the original men serving on the Ruben Flores jury was dismissed and replaced with an alternate after admitting to another member of the jury that he had spoken with his priest about the case during confession the previous Saturday. The reconstituted jury thereafter had to restart its deliberations from the beginning, but arrived at its verdict on Monday.
Prosecutors charged Flores with first-degree murder after concluding that he had killed Smart, a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University, during an attempted rape in May 1996. Ruben Flores was charged with being an accessory after the fact in the murder of Smart. Smart's body was never found.
Prosecutors further alleged that Ruben Flores buried his son's classmate in his own backyard.
During the trial, which began in July, prosecutors presented evidence that Paul Flores had allegedly raped at least two other women, who were referred to in court as Rhoda Doe and Sarah Doe, in the years since he attended college.
Additionally, witness Jennifer Hudson testified that Paul allegedly admitted to killing the "d--k tease" Smart and burying her under a deck in his parent's backyard.
“I was done playing with her,” he allegedly told the witness in 1996.
In his closing arguments, San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle argued that Paul, whom he referred to as having a “vile, rapist mind,” had “hunted” Smart for months but that the freshman was “too nice” to tell him she wasn’t interested, according to KRON.
According to prosecutor’s theory of the case, Paul saw the opportunity to get Smart alone the night of her disappearance, killed her in his dorm room during an attempted rape and then buried the body under his father’s deck.
“Now you know where she was all along. She was under their deck,” he said. “The community moved Heaven and Earth to try to find her. Paul and Ruben, they moved the dirt under their deck to hide her. Justice delayed does not have to be justice denied. We know now the truth. The truth is out. The truth is Kristin was plucked off the face of the Earth by Paul Flores.”
Peuvrelle told the jury he believed Paul was “guilty as sin.”
Paul’s attorney Robert Sanger, however, had argued there wasn’t enough evidence in the case to prove that Smart was even dead, let alone that Paul had killed her.
“There is no evidence of a murder so that’s really the end of it,” he said in court, according to ABC News.
Ruben’s attorney Harold Mesick also focused on what he considered a lack of physical evidence in the case, calling the allegations against his client, “ludicrous,” The Los Angeles Times reports.
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