NewsKristin Smart Case


Judge sentences Paul Flores to 25 years to life for murder of Kristin Smart

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Posted at 11:42 AM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 22:47:58-05

A judge on Friday sentenced Paul Flores to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of Kristin Smart, calling him "a cancer to society" and saying it was necessary to remove him from society.

Flores and Smart were students at Cal Poly when she disappeared in May 1996. Several witnesses reported that Flores was the last person to be seen with her as they walked back to the dorms from an off-campus party.

A jury found him guilty of her murder last October.

Prior to Judge Jennifer O'Keefe announcing the sentence, prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle asked the judge to sentence Flores to the maximum, calling him a "true psychopath" and saying he should never be released from prison.

Peuvrelle then presented a video of Kristin, showing snapshots of her life, starting when she was a baby.

That was followed by witness impact statements.

Kristin's father, Stan Smart, read a letter to the court about how her murder affected their entire family. He was followed by Kristin's brother, Matt; Matt's wife, Lisa; Kristin's cousin, Eric; her childhood friend, Ann-Marie; and Kristin's sister, Lindsey, and her husband. Her mother, Denise, spoke last.

As part of his sentence, Flores will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Earlier in the day on Friday, the judge denied two motions filed by Flores' defense attorney, Robert Sanger, seeking a new trial, dismissal of charges and acquittal.

The prosecution had filed its own set of motions requesting the judge deny the defense's requests.

Sanger argued that a reasonable trier of fact couldn’t have found Flores guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and said there was what he called prosecutorial “error."

Sanger also said in his motions that witnesses were not truthful in their testimony and that the science presented during the trial was junk science  

The district attorney's office filed motions requesting the judge deny the motions.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O'Keefe started the proceeding Friday morning by saying she had carefully reviewed the motions and that Sanger did not need to go over each point.  

Sanger did, however, highlight several of his concerns. He also alleged there was new information about the cadaver dogs brought up during trial and had subpoenaed someone to show up at court Friday morning.

Judge O'Keefe said she would not hear from him and would not compel him to talk to their investigator and asked that he be notified he could leave the courthouse.  

Due to the allegations of prosecutorial misconduct, Crystal Siler with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office addressed the court on behalf of trial prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle before he then addressed the other issues.  

Judge O’Keefe then read a summary of the evidence in the case, stating there was sufficient evidence to support the conviction and would deny the request for acquittal.  

She said many, if not all, of the evidence issued had already been addressed in pre-trial motions or during the trial, adding that she respectfully denied the request for a new trial.  

Paul Flores and his father, Ruben, were arrested and charged in April 2021 in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart.

The men were on trial together for nearly three months in Salinas but had separate juries that handed down different verdicts.

While Paul was convicted of murdering Kristin, Ruben was acquitted of charges that he helped his son hide Kristin’s body.

Paul Flores has remained in custody since his arrest.

Several people were late arriving at the Salinas courthouse Friday morning due to weather and a long delay caused by flooding along Highway 101 near Salinas.

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