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Convicted killer Paul Flores returns to Coalinga prison following attack

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Posted at 8:59 AM, Aug 25, 2023

Paul Flores has returned to Pleasant Valley State Prison after being attacked there earlier this week.

A spokesperson with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation says Flores returned to the prison in Coalinga Friday morning.

The attack left him with serious injuries. Paul was being treated at the hospital where his condition was upgraded to fair on Thursday, according to CDCR, which has not provided any specifics on what happened, only saying in a statement that the circumstances surrounding Flores' injury are being investigated by the prison's investigative services unit.

Flores missed Thursday's court appearance where he was expected to request attorney Harold Mesick represent him for the restitution phase of his case. The hearing was postponed to Sept. 28.

Flores has been in CDCR custody since March 30 of this year and is serving a 25 years-to-life sentence for the murder of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart in 1996. While Flores, now 46, was arrested in April of 2021, it was last October when, following a 3-month-long jury trial alongside his father in Salinas, Paul was convicted of murdering Kristin. His father, Ruben, was charged as an accessory but acquitted by a separate jury.

Paul Flores was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison less than a week ago and had reportedly only been in general population for a short time when the attack occurred.

Mesick says Paul was cut on the neck and had to be airlifted to a trauma center.

Local defense attorney Trace Milan says while prison officials are not expected to be able to control every fight in the facility, they can be held liable if they don't take steps to protect inmates from known threats. "They would need to assess how he became victimized and then make a decision about what it would take to separate him from risk of further injury," Milan told KSBY.

Mesick says he expects Flores will be placed in the prison infirmary to continue recovering before a decision is made about any protective custody necessary in the future.