Kristin Smart murder case heads to trial for both father and son

September 22, 2021

Paul Flores listens as the judge binds him over for trial. Photo by David Middlecamp – Tribune


After more than a month of testimony, a San Luis Obispo County judge ruled Wednesday that there is probable cause for Paul and Ruben Flores to be tried in front of a jury in the alleged 1996 murder of Kristin Smart.

Paul Flores is charged with murdering Kristin Smart during an attempted rape in 1996 following a Cal Poly frat party. Ruben Flores is suspected of helping his son dispose of Smart’s body, which prosecutors believe was buried under a deck at his Arroyo Grandee home.

Judge Craig van Rooyen found that based on “the totality of the evidence,” there was enough proof of probable cause that an ordinary person could determine guilt.

The judge went on to explain his analysis regarding Paul Flores:

  • Paul Flores attempted to minimize his contact with Smart during a party they both attended on May 24, 1996.
  • Evidence suggests she never returned to her dorm room, where her intimate belongings remained. No credible sighting after that.
  • Paul Flores admitted to lying to investigators about his black eye, a reasonable inference of guilt.
  • Four cadaver dogs independently alerted to Paul Flores’ side of his Cal Poly dorm room, creating a reasonable explanation a body was in the room.
  • An anomaly under Ruben Flores’ deck, with human blood found in the staining, is an indication a body was buried there.

In binding 80-year- old Ruben Flores over to trial, van Rooyen said because of the defendant’s protectiveness over the alleged burial site under his deck on White Court in Arroyo Grande, it is reasonable Ruben Flores knew a body was buried there.

If convicted, Ruben Flores faces a maximum of three years in prison. He remains out of jail on a $50,000 bond with the conditions that he wear an ankle bracelet and stay in San Luis Obispo County.

If convicted, Paul Flores could face life in prison. Until the trial is over, the judge has ordered the 44-year-old to remain in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Paul and Ruben Flores are scheduled for an arraignment hearing on Oct. 20.

“The preliminary hearing has concluded in the cases of Paul and Ruben Flores,” SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow tweeted. “A judge has determined sufficient evidence was presented for the two to be tried. We continue to support the family of Kristin Smart as we work toward justice.”


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Last Individual

They have blood under the deck in sufficent quantity to determine it is human blood, so why don’t they have DNA? That would be evidence!


Good point, that what I thought.

Anyone have a theory? Why no DNA, or, do they have it and are not saying…?

Jorge Estrada

I’m guessing that they only have the stench of “what may have been” human blood. If that can be perfected to a finding for analysis I’d be impressed. More science from somewhere may be needed?


This judge sounds like an idiot, oh my god, you didn’t want to talk to someone at a party, you had a black eye, cadaver dogs went to your dorm room, but did they just go near your dorm room or in your dorm room – was any other evidence found, like body hair. You made statements to investigators which are now claimed to be lies, oh that is right investigators have lied about a witness watching you bury something under your dad’s deck, your dad didn’t want to allow investigators to destroy his landscaping to search for something – he invoked his rights so you are guilty, guilty, guilty. So where was the sheriff the night of Smarts disappearance. Can he explain with conclusive documentation that he was not near Cal Poly, at the party, ….? Where is his proof that he is innocent


No eyewitnesses, No body, No DNA, No direct forensic evidence.. Speculation, rumors, hearsay and innuendo will not get a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mitch C

I’ d Tried to follow this as best I could, I’be read everything that I could find. If we are to be exposed to to date, what i’ve seen there is nothing but conjecture. The prosecution, in my opinion, has not even proved that Ms. Smart is dead. After digging up Poly P searching for Ms. smart’s body, I lost faith that the prosecution is doing anything but guessing.