Paul Flores seeks change of venue in murder case

Paul Flores

By KAREN VELIE

Paul Flores’ trial on charges he murdered Kristin Smart in 1996 is supposed to start on April 25 in San Luis Obispo. But it is possible the trial could end up in Santa Maria or elsewhere.

Paul Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger is seeking a change of venue, though the reasons were not discussed during a pretrial conference hearing on Wednesday morning.

Judge Craig van Rooyen gave Sanger a March 9 deadline to file a motion for the change of venue. He then scheduled a change of venue hearing on March 30.

Smart was nearing the end of her freshman year at Cal Poly when she vanished on May 25, 1996, after attending an off-campus party. Paul Flores, a fellow student, was the last person seen in the company of Smart, and for years was a person of interest in the case.

During a 2020 raid of Paul Flores’ San Pedro home, deputies discovered homemade rape videos Flores made of himself having sex and sodomizing women, along with two bottles of date rape drugs.

In March 2021, investigators searched the Arroyo Grande home and yard of Paul Flores’ father Ruben Flores, finding what was later determined to be human blood in what investigators believe was a former grave. No body was found.

Deputies then arrested Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores in April 2021 for their involvement in the alleged murder of Smart. Charged with being an accessory after the fact, Ruben Flores is suspected of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body.

Investigators testified during a preliminary hearing that Paul Flores killed Smart during an attempted sexual assault.

After more than a month of testimony, van Rooyen ruled in September that there is probable cause for Paul and Ruben Flores to be tried in front of a jury in the alleged murder of Smart. The trial is scheduled to start on April 25, 2022 in San Luis Obispo, a date that is likely to change if the court grants the change of venue motion.

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