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Judge: Susan Flores can testify during Kristin Smart murder trial

Multiple other motions were also discussed in court Thursday
Paul Ruben Flores.jpg
Posted at 6:01 PM, Jul 14, 2022

Pre-trial motions have resumed in the murder trial involving Paul and Ruben Flores.

It's an opportunity for the court to review evidence and determine whether it can be used during the upcoming months-long trial taking place in Salinas.

Paul is charged with murdering Smart. She disappeared from the Cal Poly campus in 1996 at the age of 19 and has never been found. Paul's father, Ruben, is charged with accessory after the fact and is accused of helping cover up the alleged crime.

Chris Lambert, the creator of the "Your Own Backyard” podcast, has been subpoenaed by the defense.

In court Thursday, both parties agreed to allow him to remain in the courtroom, which is not normally the case for witnesses or potential witnesses who are called to testify.

A hearing for Lambert’s subpoena involving his lawyers, who will appear via Zoom, will take place on Friday at 10 a.m.

Testimony resumed Thursday where things left off during the last motion hearings on July 8.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ruled the prosecution can introduce soil and stain sample evidence during the trial, some of which prosecutors say was collected from Ruben Flores’ property.

There was also discussion on which expert witnesses will be eligible to testify along with a motion to quash a subpoena to have Paul’s mother, Susan Flores, testify during the trial over fear of self-incrimination.

Susan appeared in court Thursday via Zoom. The judge ruled she will not be excluded as a witness.

Next on the list was forensic scientist Angela Butler. Also appearing via Zoom, Butler was subject to cross examination led by the defense where she answered questions about her report on soil samples taken from Ruben Flores' home.

The court determined Butler to be a qualified expert and could testify at trial.

Moving forward with other motions, Judge O’Keefe also found archaeologist Philip Hanes’ testimony admissible, calling him is a qualified expert on ground-penetrating radar.

Archaeologist Cindy Arrington, who is regarded as a professional when it comes to the decomposition of human remains, will also be allowed to testify.

Regarding DNA and HMEC testing on both soil and mattress samples, the judge ruled it will not be excluded as this technique is generally accepted.

Another big motion in question was the testimony of key witness Jennifer Hudson, who testified during the preliminary hearing that she may have heard Paul admit to burying Kristin. Judge O’Keefe said questioning is appropriate but with limitations.

Regarding Hudson's then boyfriend, Justin Goodwin, the judge decided his testimony is not relevant and, at least for now, questioning of the manager of the Kristin Smart Facebook page will also not be allowed, although that's subject to change.

As hearings throughout the day continued, a motion by the prosecution was heard to admit evidence alleging sexual aggressions by Paul. That motion hearing was previously postponed because the court wanted to finalize jury selection first to avoid any media exposure that could influence jurors.

Judge O’Keefe said witness testimony from three women alleging aggressive sexual behavior is inadmissible during the trial.

Three other women who reportedly said Paul sought them for sex when they were intoxicated and unable to consent will be allowed to testify, but will also be subject to rigorous cross examination.

The judge then ruled to exclude sexual videos, a commercially-produced porn video and Google searches authorities say were found on Paul’s phone.

Friday, along with the subpoena involving Chris Lambert being heard, the prosecution will share three reports that have not previously been disclosed regarding statements allegedly made by Paul in his dorm room and inside a detective’s vehicle.

Some of Kristin’s family was in court Thursday, including her mother, Denise Smart.

Opening statements in the trial are set to begin Monday.

Paul and Ruben are being tried together but will each have separate juries, which have both been seated.