NewsKristin Smart Case


Archaeologists testify anomaly found in soil at Flores home was consistent with burial site

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Posted at 10:57 AM, Sep 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-07 22:46:57-04

Two archaeologists involved in the use of ground-penetrating radar were called to the stand Tuesday during the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores.

The two men are charged in connection with the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.

Paul is charged with murder and his father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory.

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Ruben Flores in court for his preliminary hearing on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Pool photo by Dave Minsky/Santa Maria Times)

As court resumed Tuesday for the first time since Thursday afternoon, archaeologists Philip Hanes and Cindy Arrington of Sacramento testified that they were requested by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office to take part in a search of Ruben's Arroyo Grande home on March 15 and 16 of this year.

They used ground-penetrating radar on 11 different spots on the property, looking for human remains.

They say they identified four anomalies of interest where the soil showed a disturbance beneath the surface.

Once those sites were excavated, they said that one area, in particular, was of significance - a 4 by 6-foot spot underneath the back deck.

Paul's lawyer, Robert Sanger, questioned whether the technology was peer-reviewed for proficiency in detecting human remains.

Hanes said no and Sanger then objected, saying there is no evidence the newer technology is accepted in the scientific community and therefore, it is not sufficient evidence.

The judge ultimately overruled the objection.

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Defense attorney Robert Sanger in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021. (Pool photo by Dave Minsky/Santa Maria Times)

Hanes went on to say that the anomaly under the back deck was the most promising due to it being approximately the size of a burial.

He said there was significant soil disturbance from the top of the surface to approximately four feet deep.

Arrington testified that a smaller spot under the deck also showed clear subsurface disturbance but the larger anomaly was big enough to fit human remains.

She said they spent a good deal of time chasing staining in that large anomaly.

She testified that it looked like a human decomposition stain or a cadaver-soaked stain, adding that when a body decomposes, there will be a ring around it because the body liquefies and she believes that's what happened here.

Also this week, "Your Own Backyard" podcaster Chris Lambert is expected to take the stand. The judge will also hear an objection to a subpoena requiring Lambert to provide documents related to Kristin’s case.

Smart disappeared from the Cal Poly campus in May of 1996 after attending an off-campus party.

Witnesses say Paul, now 44, was the last person to be seen with the then-college freshman. Her body has never been found, but she was declared legally dead in 2002.

The preliminary hearing, which began in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court on Aug. 2, is expected to last through at least this week.

Once complete, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence against the two men to move the case forward to trial.

Paul and Ruben were both arrested in April. Paul is being held in San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail. Ruben, 80, is currently out on bail.