By KAREN VELIE
During the first day of the preliminary hearing of Paul and Ruben Flores, prosecutors attempted to portray former Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart as part of a close knit family while the defense attorneys painted a picture of a young woman in crisis who was thinking of leaving the country.
Paul Flores is accused of murdering Smart during an attempted rape in 1996 following a party they both attended in San Luis Obispo. Charged with accessory after the fact, Ruben Flores is suspected of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body, which prosecutors believe was buried under a deck at his home.
Prosecutors first called Denise Smart, who choked up when mentioning her daughter’s name, to the stand. Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle focused on questions about her family, with answers that made it appear unlikely the freshman would leave and never look back.
While Denise Smart testified to the upbeat mood of her daughter during the week she disappeared, that assertion became suspect during cross examination.
Robert Sanger, Paul Flores’ defense attorney, asked Denise Smart if she was aware her daughter — who called herself Roxie — was failing out of school, was pregnant, had told friends she was considering moving to Canada and keeping the baby, and was applying for jobs as a model. Aside from knowledge of her daughter’s unhappiness and academic problems at Cal Poly, Denise Smart said she knew little about her daughter’s social life.
Stan Smart, the freshman’s father, testified his daughter spoke of moving to Thailand, but said it was a only pipe dream.
In response to a motion from Jeffry Radding, the attorney for Susan Flores, Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled she would not be called to testify after Susan Flores said she planned to invoke her right against self-incrimination.
At the end of the day, two witnesses who had attended the party also testified.
Kendra Koed told the court she had kissed Paul Flores at the party, before pushing him away. Koed described Kristin Smart as “highly intoxicated.” After Koed asked Kristin Smart if she could walk her home, Krisitn Smart declined the offer saying she was waiting for someone.
The preliminary hearing will determine if Paul Flores should be put on trial for murder. The hearing is expected to last up to three weeks.