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Suspects in Kristin Smart disappearance plead not guilty

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office shows Ruben Flores, 80, who was arrested in connection to the murder of college student Kristin Smart at his Arroyo Grande home on April 12. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the arrest warrants for Ruben Flores and his son Paul Flores were issued after a search of the elder Flores’ home last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. He said evidence was found linked to the killing of Smart but they had not yet located her body.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office shows Ruben Flores, 80, who was arrested in connection to the murder of college student Kristin Smart at his Arroyo Grande home on April 12. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the arrest warrants for Ruben Flores and his son Paul Flores were issued after a search of the elder Flores’ home last month using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs. He said evidence was found linked to the killing of Smart but they had not yet located her body.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office shows suspect Paul Flores who was arrested April 13 for the murder of Kristin Smart. Flores, the longtime suspect in the 25-year-old disappearance of the California college student was arrested Tuesday, April 13, 2021, on suspicion of murder, and his father was booked in jail as an accessory to the crime. Flores, 44, who was the last person seen with Smart on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo before she vanished in 1996, was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This photo provided by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office shows suspect Paul Flores who was arrested April 13 for the murder of Kristin Smart. Flores, the longtime suspect in the 25-year-old disappearance of the California college student was arrested Tuesday, April 13, 2021, on suspicion of murder, and his father was booked in jail as an accessory to the crime. Flores, 44, who was the last person seen with Smart on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo before she vanished in 1996, was taken into custody in the Los Angeles area.

LOS ANGELES >> A former California college student charged with murder in the 1996 disappearance of classmate Kristin Smart pleaded not guilty today and his father denied helping to hide the young woman’s body.

Paul Flores, 44, was charged with first-degree murder in the killing that authorities said happened as he tried to rape Smart in his dorm room at California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo after an off-campus party. Witnesses said Smart was intoxicated and Flores had said he would walk her home.

Ruben Flores, 80, pleaded not guilty to a charge that he was an accessory after murder.

Paul Flores was held without bail, but the judge said he would release his father on bail he could afford, which will be determined at a later hearing in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court. The city is 160 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

The arrests last week followed significant developments in the case in recent years as new witnesses came forward, investigators monitored Paul Flores’ cellphone and text messages, and searches were conducted at separate homes where Flores, his father, mother and sister live.

A search at Ruben Flores’ home 13 miles south of campus in Arroyo Grande using ground-penetrating radar and cadaver dogs discovered evidence connected to Smart’s death, authorities said. They didn’t revealed what was found but were seen digging in the backyard April 13 following the arrests.

Defense lawyers, however, questioned the value of the evidence disclosed to them so far in the case.

“The evidence is so minimal as to shock the conscience,” said attorney Harold Mesick, who represents Ruben Flores.

Prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle countered that investigators had found substantial new evidence since a series of searches last year that ultimately led to the arrests.

“Counsel said, ‘There was very little new evidence,’” Peuvrelle said, referring to Paul Flores’ lawyer, Robert Singer. “Well then he must not have read the same warrant that I have. There is substantial new evidence.”

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