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Monterey Co. judge selected to oversee Kristin Smart murder trial

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Posted at 3:17 PM, May 04, 2022

The jury trial for Paul and Ruben Flores, who are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, will take place in Salinas.

Monterey County Superior Court officials confirmed the information Wednesday while also announcing that Judge Jennifer O’Keefe will oversee the trial.

San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen, who is not following the case to Monterey County, previously ruled to move the trial elsewhere citing multiple factors, including the years of publicity the Kristin Smart case has seen and the county’s size.

Judge O’Keefe has been serving as a Monterey County Superior Court Judge since March of last year when she was appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom to fill a vacancy created by a retiring judge.

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Judge Jennifer O'Keefe

Prior to Monterey County being selected as the trial location, a May 31 date was set as the start of the trial.

Monterey County Superior Court officials Wednesday said they did not have an update on when the trial would begin or whether it would be delayed at all.

There was also no upcoming court date for Paul, 45, or his father listed on the court website.

Paul is charged with murder in connection with Smart’s disappearance. He remains in custody at San Luis Obispo County Jail and is being held without bail.

His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory, and is currently out of custody after posting bail shortly after the pair’s arrest in April of last year.