By KAREN VELIE
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled Monday against allowing audio recordings of next month’s preliminary hearing of two men accused in the disappearance and murder of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart because it could taint the jury pool and deter witnesses from testifying.
Paul Flores is accused of murdering Smart during an attempted rape in 1996. Charged with accessory after the fact, Ruben Flores is suspected of helping his son with Smart’s body. Her body has never been found.
Expected to last 12 days, the preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin on July 6 with in-person testimony. During the preliminary hearing, which is like a mini trial, Judge van Rooyen will determine if their is sufficient evidence to move forward with the case.
Convictions in murder cases without a body have been historically hard to prove.
In a pre-hearing document that was inadvertently posted online, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle noted the excavation below the deck of Rubin Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande “showed damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved.”
SLO County sheriff deputy Clint Cole asked the court to deny bail for Rubin Flores because of biological evidence that makes them believe Smart was buried under his deck at one time.
During the preliminary hearing, it is likely prosecutors will disclose the type of biological evidence that was found.
At a hearing on April 14, the SLO County District Attorney’s Office noted its intent to provide the defense with video and audio evidence of sexual assaults Paul Flores allegedly committed before he was charged with Smart’s murder.
Prosecutors plan to use the evidence to make the case that Paul Flores has a propensity for sexually assaulting women.
Paul Flores is being held without bail in the SLO County Jail. Ruben Flores posted bail and was released in April.