NewsKristin Smart Case


Judge announces Monterey County as location for Kristin Smart murder trial

Paul Flores.PNG
Posted at 5:35 AM, Apr 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-20 14:18:18-04

UPDATE (11 a.m.) - San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen announced Wednesday that Monterey County will be where the trial for Paul and Ruben Flores will be held.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled on Zoom for April 25.

(5:35 a.m.) - It's been just over a year since Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested in connection with the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart and on Wednesday, it’s expected the judge will announce where their trial will be held.

Paul, a longtime person of interest in Smart’s 1996 disappearance from the Cal Poly campus, is charged with her murder and is being held in San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory, accused of helping hide Smart's body, and is currently out of custody after posting bail shortly after his April 2021 arrest.

A lengthy preliminary hearing wrapped up in September and just last month, Judge Craig van Rooyen granted a motion by the defense requesting a change of venue.

Van Rooyen said there is a reasonable likelihood that Paul and Ruben would not receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County.

The main factors that contributed to his decision were the years of publicity the case has had and the county's size.

Van Rooyen said it's probably the most highly-covered case in San Luis Obispo County's history and also noted that it has been the focus of intense local scrutiny that's only increased over time.

The Judicial Council of California says all counties could be considered to take the trial depending on the nature and location of the case.

Change of Venue requests are rather rare in California. The Judicial Council says that between 2019 and 2021, they were only contacted by a superior court five times for assistance with a change of venue.

Wherever the trial takes place, it will be San Luis Obispo County's responsibility to foot the bill.

Wednesday morning’s hearing is set to begin at 8:30 a.m.