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Locals weigh in as an end to the Kristin Smart murder trial draws near

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Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 06, 2022

Whether you are new to San Luis Obispo County or you have been living in the area for years, it is more than likely that you have heard something about the Kristin Smart murder trial.

Some locals we spoke to say they have been keeping tabs on this case over the years, and they are looking forward to this trial finally coming to a close.

In the time since her disappearance in 1996, and even more so since the trial against Paul and Ruben Flores began earlier this year, people in the community have become quite familiar with the name, Kristin Smart.

"My family has been here for years, and we have seen the Kristin Smart picture in the [Arroyo Grande] Village, so I am hoping that people will have closure," said Maryah Lilly.

"I have been following it on and off," said Louis Salazar, who lives in Grover Beach. "Just kind of wanting it all to be resolved."

Salazar says he has been living in San Luis Obispo County since Kristin first went missing. Lilly says she found out about the case five years ago when she moved to Nipomo.

"Around that time that we moved, my husband became aware of the Kristin Smart case. And then right after that, the podcast came out and me and him were both avid listeners of the podcast," Lilly told KSBY.

With both sets of juries now in deliberations, San Luis Obispo County attorneys reflected on what this waiting game is like for the competing counsels.

"Here we are in deliberations, and you can't do anything!" exclaimed local defense attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu. "You can't question anybody, you can't talk to anybody. It is almost as if your function as a lawyer has disappeared, and you are just completely powerless."

Fellow local attorney Trace Milan also remarked on the possible impacts that two separate juries may have upon the verdict.

"The unknown has a great effect on the human imagination, and I think that this process where we let some jurors see some of the stuff but not others, it really does invite speculation in a way that could be damaging to defendants," Milan said.

Meanwhile, locals are giving their own varying thoughts on the possible outcomes.

"We are very hopeful that he is convicted for this, and I think a relief that there will hopefully be justice," Lilly said.

"I hope they find her, actually. That is the main thing," Salazar said.

Ilan Funke-Bilu also adds that there is no set time frame for how long or short these deliberations may last. He also adds that a longer deliberation period may raise some concerns from the competing counsels and that they may ask the court if they can ask the juries about their deliberation process.