The Kristin Smart murder trial resumed Monday after a delay over an unnamed "evidence issue" on Friday.
Paul and Ruben Flores are on trial for the murder of Kristin Smart, who disappeared from the Cal Poly campus in May 1996 after an off-campus party.
Witnesses say Paul Flores was the last person to be seen with her. Paul is charged with the 19-year-old’s murder while his father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory, accused of helping hide the body.
A contractor who built Ruben’s home and a former roommate who lived in the house from 2010 to 2020 were both on the witness stand Monday, but before testimony could begin, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe met with several jurors independently to discuss conflicts in attendance.
This latest delay followed an early end to proceedings on Friday after only about 15 minutes of testimony.
Just after 9:30 a.m. Monday, the contractor who built the house Ruben currently lives in started answering questions.
Developer Ed Chadwell described the steep slope of the lot and construction of the home’s foundation, which required digging down to solid rock sometimes as deep as eight feet under the soil.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked Chadwell if they found any remains under or near the house when workers were building the deck and if any serious injuries were reported by workers.
Chadwell answered no to both questions while also explaining how Ruben and Susan Flores agreed to purchase the house while it was under construction. It was completed and handed over to the Flores’ in August of 1991.
During Cross examination, Paul’s attorney, Robert Sanger, showed Chadwell some of the building plans and permit application as well as several pictures of the house while it was under construction.
Sanger had the builder explain how the deck was built and describe any modifications to the home’s foundation once it was under construction. He also showed Chadwell some pink construction twine and asked him if it was similar to what he used to mark out the foundation in 1991.
Chadwell said it was similar and the color he preferred to use was pink as it shows up well.
Sanger also asked Chadwell if he’d ever used diesel fuel as a “release agent” to help the concrete from sticking to the construction forms. Chadwell said it was a common practice in the ’90s and that he'd sometimes used it.
The questions are likely to explain some of the items found in the soil under the deck during a search of the home including discoloration in the dirt and red fibers.
Kristin Smart was reported to be wearing red at the time of her disappearance.
Sanger also asked several questions the jury submitted for the witness including what the soil conditions were like under the deck, why the footings had to be so deep and how tall the crawl space under the house and deck were.
Chadwell explained the area was made up of soil on top of rock, so the footings had to be dug down to the rock in all areas.
He said the height of the crawl space varied because of the slope under the house, but that you could easily stand up on some areas.
Ruben’s attorney, Harold Mesick, asked Chadwell about whether the house was connected to a septic or a sewer system and where cleanouts were located, again presumably to explain some of the items found during the search.
Court resumed in the afternoon making it a busy day for testimony.
A former roommate, David Stone, who lived with Ruben for 10 years testified about his time in the house from 2010 to 2020.
He told jurors about a time when he moved a few empty plastic, 55-gallon drums into the space under the deck. Stone said Ruben was angry he hadn't asked for permission ahead of time and ultimately made him move the drums.
He also testified he overheard Ruben referring to Kristin as an "*expletive slut."
Under cross examination from both Sanger and Mesick, Stone said he got along with Ruben during his time at the home and moved out voluntarily. At one point, he said he’d asked Ruben about moving back in.
Next on the stand were two investigators with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office.
Detective Clint Cole talked about his interview with Stone and Detective Matt Terrell described serving a search warrant at Ruben's house.
Terrell showed pictures of items found in a drawer in Ruben's bedroom. The items including flyers, newspaper articles and post cards referring to the Kristin Smart case.
Monday wrapped up with a neighbor of Ruben Flores testifying about what she described as strange activity during February of 2020.
Jamilyn Holman says she heard lots of arguing and other noise as Ruben and Susan Flores along with Susan's boyfriend removed part of a fence and then parked a cargo trailer next the house all after dark.
At one point in court, there was a heated exchange between Peuvrelle and Sanger. Sanger wanted to review some photos taken by Holman and Peuvrelle said he'd already provided them.
Judge O’Keefe asked to speak with the attorneys in the hallway and when they came back, Sanger brought up several objections, all of which were overruled by Judge O'Keefe. The photos were ultimately admitted into evidence.
During cross examination of Holman, Sanger asked about her knowledge of the "Your Own Backyard" podcast. Holman said she was aware of it and also aware the FBI searched the house on Feb. 5 of 2020.
She testified the incident involving the cargo trailer happened on Feb. 9, 2020, but says she didn't report it until March of 2021.
Holman also admitted to meeting with Jim Murphy, the Smart family attorney, before going to detectives
Paul and Ruben Flores are being tried together but each have separate juries who will ultimately hand down separate verdicts.
Following their arrests in April 2021, Ruben was granted bail and has been out of custody since shortly after his arrest; however, Paul was denied bail and remains in custody.
If convicted, Paul faces a sentence of 25 years to life. Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail if convicted.