NewsKristin Smart Case


Attorney fires back at dog handler testifying in Kristin Smart murder trial

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Posted at 4:36 PM, Aug 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-25 22:49:05-04

A third dog handler who searched the Cal Poly dorms after Kristin Smart went missing in 1996 testified in her murder trial Thursday in Salinas.

Gail LaRoque says she and her dog, Torrey, did a "blind search" of the Santa Lucia dorm in June of that year.

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Cadaver Dog Handler Gail Laroque testifies in court Aug. 25, 2002

She testified her dog was working the first floor off-leash when she sniffed and alerted to Paul Flores' room.

LaRoque said unlike the other two dogs who searched, Torrey alerted to both beds in the room and also to a trash can in the room.

She says she believes Torrey was allerting on human remains.

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Cadaver dog Torrey

During cross examination, Paul's attorney, Robert Sanger, questioned the legitimacy of CARDA (California Rescue Dog Association), the private organization that certified the dogs.

Like the other handlers, LaRoque said CARDA is a private organization but uses standards approved by the Office of Emergency Services.

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A photo of cadaver dog Torrey during a search

Sanger also questioned her about whether her dog has ever had any "false positive" alerts. LaRoque said she's never personally had that experience.

At one point, the questioning got a bit heated when Sanger asked LaRoque if she knew the chemical compounds her dog was responding to.

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Defense Attorney Robert Sanger in court Aug. 25, 2022

The dog handler told Sanger she didn't know the chemical compound of a chocolate cake either but knows it when she sees it.

He fired back, "Do you think this is funny? This is a murder trial."

The remainder of the afternoon was spent questioning a former girlfriend of Paul's.

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Paul and Ruben Flores together in court Aug. 25, 2022

She told jurors she dated Paul for two years in the early 2000s. At one point, she says she visited Ruben's house, testifying that she walked into the backyard to look at some avocado trees and was quickly redirected to the front of the house.

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Ruben Flores in court Aug. 25, 2022

The woman told jurors it was obvious Ruben and Paul didn't want her back there.

Her testimony and cross examination will continue Friday.

Paul is charged with the murder of Kristin Smart. His father, Ruben, is charged with accessory after the fact, accused of helping hide the body.

The pair are being tried together but each have separate juries who will ultimately hand down separate verdicts.

Over the course of the trial, there will be times when one jury may not be present in the courtroom as testimony or evidence being presented only pertains to one defendant’s case.

The trial was moved out of San Luis Obispo County and is taking Place in Salinas.

If convicted, Paul faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail.