By KAREN VELIE
A Monterey County jury on Monday found Paul Flores guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Kristin Smart in 1996. A second jury determined Ruben Flores was not guilty of helping to dispose of Smart’s body.
Paul Flores’ verdict was read first. After about four full days of deliberations, jurors found the 41-year-old guilty of first-degree murder, which means willful, premeditated murder. He now faces from 25 years to life in prison.
Paul Flores murdered Kristin Smart during an attempted rape in 1996 following a Cal Poly frat party. After the party, Flores helped escort Smart, who was found passed out on a lawn outside the party, back to her dorm room. She was never seen again.
Paul Flores, the primary suspect in the case, was sporting a black eye when interviewed by law enforcement, who determined he lied repeatedly. Even so, it would be years before deputies raided Paul Flores’ home.
During a 2020 raid of Paul Flores’ San Pedro home, deputies discovered multiple rape videos with titles including, “Drugged and raped while passed out” and “Blonde high school girl in skirt gets raped.” Investigators also found two bottles of date rape drugs in Flores’ home, prosecutors said.
In a file labeled “practice,” Paul Flores stored homemade rape videos of himself having sex and sodomizing women.
Deputies arrested Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores in April 2021. Ruben Flores was accused of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body, which prosecutors believe was buried under a deck at Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande home.
Ruben Flores’ attorney Harold Mesick successfully argued there was not enough evidence to convict his 81-year-old client.
During the trial, Jennifer Hudson, who encountered Flores at a mutual friend’s house in 1996, testified Paul Flores, who referred to Smart as a “dick tease,” said that he buried Smart’s body under a skate ramp in rural Arroyo Grande.
Paul Flores’ attorney Robert Sanger unsuccessfully argued during his closing statement that Hudson was not a credible witness because she changed her story multiple times. Sanger said Hudson, who he called the prosecution’s “star witness,” wove a preposterous tale.
Paul Flores is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 9.