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Jury begins deliberating fate of defendant Paul Flores in Kristin Smart murder trial



After listening to 11 weeks of proof and a set of fiery closing arguments, jurors on Tuesday started deliberating whether or not to convict Paul Flores for the 1996 homicide of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo scholar Kristin Good.

“Paul Flores murdered her and buried her below his father’s deck. It’s that easy,” San Luis Obispo County Deputy Dist. Atty. Chris Peuvrelle mentioned in his closing arguments in a Salinas courtroom.

Flores’ legal professional, Robert Sanger, completed his closing arguments by telling jurors that “there isn’t a proof of a homicide — so that’s actually the tip of it.”

Good was 19 when she vanished 26 years in the past after strolling towards the dormitories with Flores. Her physique has by no means been discovered, however she was legally declared useless in 2002.

Her disappearance and the following homicide investigation left an indelible mark on the Central Coast faculty city. Billboards appealed for proof to convict her killer. The killing was the topic of a true-crime podcast. And it spawned a cottage trade of investigators.

Peuvrelle mentioned Flores, 45, raped or tried to rape — and finally killed — Good earlier than hiding her stays with the assistance of his father.

San Luis Obispo County sheriff’s detectives arrested Flores at his San Pedro residence in April 2021, many years after figuring out him as an individual of curiosity in Good’s disappearance.

His father, Ruben Flores, was taken into custody final 12 months at his residence in Arroyo Grande, Calif., and charged with being an adjunct to the crime. Prosecutors say he helped conceal Good’s physique earlier than shifting it in 2020.

Peuvrelle instructed jurors that Flores and his father knew the place Good’s physique was all these years.

“However now the place she was all alongside: below their deck,” Peuvrelle instructed jurors as he pointed towards Paul and Ruben Flores.

Ruben Flores, 81, is being tried similtaneously his son. Separate juries listening to the case collectively are deciding every man’s destiny.

Sanger instructed jurors that that they had been instructed “a bunch of conspiracy theories not backed up by info” by a prosecutor intent on making them hate Paul Flores.

Peuvrelle, he claimed, had witnesses testify about remarks Flores by no means made about Good.

“He’s making an attempt to bootstrap a homicide the place there isn’t a proof of homicide,” Sanger mentioned.

Peuvrelle rebutted that declare Tuesday, saying, “The folks’s case is just not a conspiracy idea.”

He added, sarcastically: “So some 50 witnesses spanning 26 years are a part of the conspiracy.”

Among the many witnesses, the prosecutor famous, have been three police canine handlers who testified their cadaver canines every had sought out Flores’ room from greater than 120 rooms within the dormitory and signaled that they had detected the scent of loss of life.

Peuvrelle instructed jurors that Paul Flores needs to be discovered responsible below the state’s felony homicide legislation since he allegedly dedicated the killing in his dorm room as a part of a rape or tried rape of an intoxicated particular person.

A San Luis Obispo County choose earlier ordered the Flores trials be moved greater than 100 miles north to Monterey County to make sure truthful authorized proceedings.

Good was final seen on Could 25, 1996, as she was strolling with Flores close to the residence halls on campus after attending a celebration.

Peuvrelle instructed jurors that Flores, a fellow Cal Poly scholar, had “hunted” her for months, steadily showing the place she was, together with her dormitory.

The evening of the occasion, he appeared out of the darkness to assist her stroll residence after she had handed out on a garden from ingesting closely, the prosecutor mentioned.

Two girls testified final month that Flores drugged and raped them many years after Good vanished.

The ladies used the pseudonyms Sarah Doe and Rhonda Doe, and alleged Flores sexually assaulted them in Los Angeles in 2008 and 2011, respectively.

Peuvrelle known as Flores a “serial drugger” and rapist.

“Sarah Doe and Rhonda Doe,” he mentioned, “inform us what Kristin couldn’t: that she was raped or that Paul Flores tried to rape her.”

The prosecutor mentioned Flores had provided to offer the ladies rides residence after assembly them, solely to drug and repeatedly rape them at his home.

Displaying the jury a picture discovered on Flores’ pc of a gagged lady, Peuvrelle added that the 2 witnesses had testified that they too have been restrained with the identical ball gag.

Throughout his closing arguments, Sanger tried to undermine the testimony of the 2 girls, noting that Rhonda Doe attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1996 and 1997, when Good’s disappearance was getting a lot publicity. He mentioned it was an excessive amount of of a coincidence that she got here ahead with rape allegations in 2020.

Because the trial’s begin in July, Peuvrelle has mentioned that, throughout a four-day interval when Flores was not seen on campus, he eliminated Good’s physique with the assistance of his father and buried it below the deck at his father’s Arroyo Grande home.

Ruben Flores, the prosecutor alleged, saved folks away from the deck for years. A neighbor testified that, in 2020, as police have been zeroing in on the home, she noticed a bevy of exercise as a trailer backed as much as the property.

A soil scientist and archaeologist testified that floor radar confirmed an anomaly within the soil and indications of bodily fluids that have been per a physique having been buried and eliminated.

Blood was detected there, the prosecutor repeatedly instructed jurors.

Sanger rebuffed that declare, telling jurors Tuesday that the blood detection was primarily based on “junk science.” He mentioned it was considered one of a number of claims within the prosecution’s case, together with canines smelling an odor of loss of life, that didn’t have forensic proof to assist them.

Sanger instructed jurors that activists set on convicting Flores, in addition to a true-crime podcast, “Your Personal Yard,” that turned up potential witnesses, influenced the prosecution.

With no proof Good was raped or that Flores tried to rape her, jurors mustn’t take into account the testimony of Sarah Doe and Rhonda Doe, Sanger mentioned.

He added {that a} key witness for the prosecution, Jennifer Hudson, who testified that Paul Flores admitted to her that he killed Good, had provided various variations of her story and waited a few years earlier than coming ahead.

The choose on Tuesday rejected a movement for a mistrial by Flores’ legal professional.

Sanger mentioned the prosecutor erred in telling jurors that they had a “binary alternative” between the proof provided by prosecutors and the protection. The burden of proof, he famous, is on the prosecution to show its case.

The second jury will hear closing statements in Ruben Flores’ case on Wednesday.

The choose mentioned each verdicts will probably be learn collectively. After the primary jury resolution is reached, will probably be held till the opposite jury reaches a verdict.

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