By KAREN VELIE
More than 26 years after Kristin Smart disappeared from the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo campus, attorneys are selecting jurors in the murder trial of Paul Flores.
Smart, a native of Stockton, was nearing the end of her freshman year at Cal Poly when she vanished on May 25, 1996 after attending an off-campus party. The 19-year-old was last seen in the company of fellow student Paul Flores.
Paul Flores claims he escorted Smart to her dorm, which was relatively empty because of the Memorial Day weekend, and then left.
After years of investigators amassing evidence and conducting interviews and searches, in April 2021, SLO County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Paul Flores at his San Pedro home and his father Ruben Flores at his Arroyo Grande home.
The court sent jury duty summons to more than 1,500 Monterey County residents. In the end, the court will impanel 40 jurors, which includes alternates.
Each defendant will have his own jury, which will listen to most of the trial simultaneously. The two juries will rotate between the jury box and the gallery in a trial expected to last between three and five months.
According to the “Aranda Bruton Rule,” a defendant’s 6th Amendment right to confront and cross-examine witnesses can be violated when a recorded statement made by a co-defendant appears to implicate the defendant if admitted in their joint trial. In a June 19, 1996 interview, Paul Flores made a statement that appears to implicate his father.
During a pretrial hearing last week, attorneys revealed a brief settlement discussion that occurred on May 24, but did not lead to a plea agreement.