The attorneys for Paul Flores have officially filed for a change of venue in the Kristin Smart murder trial.
Flores and his father, Ruben, are charged in connection with the Cal Poly student's 1996 disappearance. Paul is charged with murder while Ruben is charged as an accessory after the fact, accused of helping hide Smart's body.
In the motion filed in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Wednesday, attorney Robert Sanger argues that "there is a reasonable likelihood that a fair and impartial trial cannot be had in San Luis Obispo County."
The motion points to the extensive media coverage of the case and the prominence of Smart's likeness in the community on billboards and at memorials as well as the podcast dedicated to her disappearance. It claims Paul Flores has been "disparaged and demonized" while being portrayed as the only suspect in the case. It also points to the small population of San Luis Obispo County compared to other counties in California and the gravity of the charge of murder.
The motion reads:
The disappearance of Kristin Smart has been a topic of emotional concern in the San Luis Obispo County community since 1996, almost 26 years ago. Over those 26 years, the local community has been exposed to a steady stream of news articles, memorials, and billboards. From the beginning, Paul Flores has been the focus of narratives speculating that he murdered Kristin Smart. Attitude in the community towards Paul Flores and his family have been vicious and relentless. The press has contributed to this along with private individuals, podcasters, bloggers, websites managers and public relations efforts on the part of the Sheriff's Office and District Attorney's Office.
Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested in April 2021, nearly 25 years after Smart's disappearance. She was last seen walking back to the dorms with Paul Flores after an off-campus party on the early morning of May 25, 1996. While her body has never been found, Smart was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002.
In September, following a lengthy preliminary hearing that included testimony from investigators and people who attended the off-campus party, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled there was probable cause to move the case forward to trial.
A hearing on the change of venue motion is scheduled for March 30.
The trial is currently set to begin in San Luis Obispo County on April 25.