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Two of California’s most notorious murder cases could intertwine in court if defense attorneys for Paul Flores get their way.
Flores’ legal team is hoping to call Scott Peterson—who is currently behind bars for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn son—to the stand during an ongoing preliminary hearing for Flores and his father Ruben Flores, according to local station KEYT.
Paul is accused of killing college student Kristin Smart in May of 1996 after walking her home from a party at California Polytechnic State University. His defense attorneys have argued that Peterson, who attended the same college, knew Smart before she disappeared.
The defense team said it has made arrangements for Peterson to be transported from San Quentin State Prison to San Luis Obispo to testify during the preliminary hearing; however, legal experts have doubted whether much will come from the request.
Legal analyst Michael Cardoza told KTVU its unlikely Peterson would be summoned to testify unless there is evidence that links him to the disappearance.
Even if he does make it to the courtroom, Cardoza said Peterson would likely take the Fifth Amendment.
“You cannot call a witness to the stand in a trial that is going to take the Fifth Amendment,” Cardoza said. “A judge would prevent that because it would create an illusion that the person who’s taking the Fifth actually committed the crime. So they’re not going to be allowed to testify.”
Cardoza believed the district attorney would also “certainly fight” moving Peterson from the state prison without any evidence that Peterson had any knowledge of the disappearance.
“The defense cannot go on a fishing expedition,” he said.
Sacramento attorney Mark Reichel agreed that Peterson’s attorneys would be unlikely to want him to get involved in the case—particularly as he’s facing his own legal hurdles, according to local station KOVR.
A state Supreme Court overturned Peterson’s death sentence last year. While the murder convictions against him still stand, his attorneys are trying to get him a new trial.
“His lawyers are going to be really short and brief with him, ‘Look, we’re trying to get you free on your original case. This is not the time to say something we’re all going to regret.’ So, I’m sure they’re going to say to him, ‘You’re not saying a word,’” Reichel said.
He called the move a “strange distraction” by the defense.
“This is without a doubt the craziest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said.
Prosecutors have argued that Paul was the last person to see Smart alive after offering to walk her home on May 25, 1996. Authorities believe he killed Smart, whose body has never been found, during an attempted rape in his dorm room.
His father, Ruben Flores, has been accused of helping to dispose of the 19-year-old’s body.
The preliminary hearing is expected to last three to four weeks as prosecutors aim to show there is enough evidence against Paul to proceed with the criminal charges against him.
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