NewsKristin Smart Case


Detective details call intercepted between Paul Flores, mother during wiretap

A K9 handler also testified about a search at Ruben's home in 2021
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Posted at 1:33 PM, Aug 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-31 11:00:03-04

More witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the Kristin Smart murder trial.

Paul and Ruben Flores are on trial in Salinas in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Smart, who was last seen walking back to her dorm from an off-campus party.

Witnesses say Paul, who is charged with murdering Smart, was the last person to be seen with her. His father is charged as an accessory, accused of helping hide Smart’s body, which has never been found.

Monday, Ruben Flores’ home was the focus of testimony as a former roommate of his, a neighbor and two SLO County Sheriff investigators testified.

Tuesday morning, it was a senior deputy with the sheriff's office who took the stand.

During Jason Nadal's testimony, San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked the witness about photos he had taken while serving a search warrant at Paul's home in San Pedro back in February of 2020.

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A photo from Paul Flores' San Pedro home shown in court Aug. 30, 2022

Following Peuvrelle’s questioning, Paul's attorney, Robert Sanger, asked Nadal about his role in the search.

Nadal said he'd coordinated the search efforts and admitted that San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole had briefed him before the search warrant was served, but Nadal said he could not remember if Cole had been present at the time of the search.

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A photo from Paul Flores' San Pedro home shown in court Aug. 30, 2022

The next witness to testify was Gregory Smith, a senior detective for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.

Smith told the court that in January of 2020, he received permission from a San Luis Obispo County Judge to wiretap the phones of the Flores family.

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Gregory Smith with the SLO Co. Sheriff's Office testified Aug. 30, 2022 during the Kristin Smart murder trial

An audio conversation between Paul Flores and his mother, Susan, from Jan. 26, 2020 was then played in the courtroom. In the recording, Susan could be heard telling Paul to start listening to the “Your Own Backyard” podcast so they could start "punching holes in it."

Sanger then asked Smith to confirm that phone calls were intercepted from the Flores family between Jan. 5 to Feb. 3rd, 2020.

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Paul Flores and his attorney, Robert Sanger in court Aug. 30, 2022

Referring to the audio clip that had just been played for the courtroom, Sanger asked Detective Smith to confirm that Susan had said she wanted to make sure Paul was legally covered during the investigation, to which Smith agreed.

At one point during cross examination, Sanger asked Smith if he had heard Paul talk about bringing forth false information once the trial began. Smith said he had not heard that.

He did, however, admit that a sheriff's office strategy was using Chris Lambert’s podcast as a way to leak information about the investigation to the Flores family.

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Gregory Smith with the SLO Co. Sheriff's Office testifies in court Aug. 30, 2022

Ruben's attorney, Harold Mesick, did not cross examine either witness.

When testimony resumed Tuesday afternoon, the assistant director for Santa Clara County's search and rescue team took the stand.

In her testimony, Kristine Black said that for the past 20 years, she has worked with K9-specialized search teams trained to search for human remains.

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Dog handler Kristin Black testifies Aug. 30 about a search she and her K9, Annie, did of Ruben's property in 2021.

Peuvrelle then asked Black to discuss the training process for her current K9, Annie, where Black recalled spending hundreds of hours helping her canine become familiar with human bones and learning how to search for remains.

Black testified that during her time with Annie, they worked together on multiple homicide investigations, and that her canine was successfully able to locate bodies that authorities were searching for.

Peuvrelle then asked Black if she had been called out to conduct a K9 search at Ruben’s home on White Court in Arroyo Grande on March 15, 2021. Black confirmed.

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K9 Annie was involved in a search of Ruben Flores' property in 2021

Black explained that she and Annie searched a Volkswagon in front of the home where no human remains were identified.

She also testified that during Annie's search of the backyard, the canine also did not alert to remains.

However, Black then discussed her search with Annie throughout the deck of the property, which was where she noticed Annie started sniffing for human remains. Black testified that she informed Detective Cole about what happened shortly after that.

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A search of Ruben Flores' property was done in March 2021

Black also noted that Annie had not given a final alert after her search, which she said may have happened because the primary odor source of human remains had been disrupted or removed from the location.

During Sanger's cross examination, he asked Black to clarify Annie's behavior when she identifies human remains. Black replied that Annie would typically go into a down position in the location remains were found.

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Ruben Flores' deck was searched by K9 Annie in March 2021

Sanger also asked Black to confirm that her work with Santa Clara County is voluntary. Black confirmed it.

Sanger then noted that even though canines like Annie may show behaviors to scents they come across, Black or other dog handlers ultimately do not know what the dog is smelling.

Mesick then began his cross examination of Black, where he asked her if factors like wind and heat impact a canine's effectiveness in detecting remains. She testified that they play a big role in impacting surrounding scents, but she could not clarify if that was the case during Annie's search of Ruben’s property.

Mesick also asked her what she had thought when Annie didn't give a final alert response after her search of the deck, which prompted an objection from Sanger. Mesick then withdrew the question.

Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday.

If convicted, Paul faces a sentence of 25 years to life. Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail, if convicted.