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Witness in preliminary hearing believes she heard Paul Flores confess to burying Kristin Smart

The preliminary hearing began Aug. 2
Day 8 Flores preliminary hearing afternoon 1.jpg
Posted at 7:51 AM, Aug 12, 2021

Day eight of the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, who are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, began with direct examination of Timothy Davis, one of the last people to see Kristin the night she disappeared. Later, another witness testified to hearing Paul make what she believed to be a confession.

Timothy Davis

Timothy Davis testified that he was a junior at Cal Poly the night of the party on Crandall Way in May of 1996 and was celebrating the birthdays of two friends who were turning 21.

He said he remembers seeing Paul Flores show up to the party by himself around 9:30 or 10 p.m. but said he didn’t think anything of Paul at the time.

Regarding Paul’s behavior toward girls that night, Davis says “He (Paul) was very interested in being around the… near them, engaged with them."

Davis recounts seeing Kristin and Paul talking in the hallway of the house and laughing and then falling together on the floor.

He testified that around 11 p.m., Paul and Kristin fell to the floor about five feet in front of him, adding they both seemed intoxicated but that he doesn’t know how much they may have had to drink.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle asks Davis about the end of the party and when he next saw Kristin.

Davis says he remembers some partygoers getting into his truck that his friend drove, but that he stayed behind to walk back to the dorms with Cheryl Anderson, who testified last week.

It was at that time Davis says he turned and saw Kristin laying on the grass to the left of the house.

"I have a really good memory of this because it is something I've rehashed over the last 25 years," Davis said in court, adding that it was around 1 a.m. at the time and “really cold,” likely in the mid-50s.

Davis says Kristin was face down on her elbow on the grass and says she was not throwing up but "she needed help getting off the ground" and Kristin kept saying to Davis, “I’m cold.”

Davis says he started to help Kristin walk back to the dorms along with Anderson when Paul suddenly “comes out of darkness” and joins them. Davis says he remembers thinking, "Who the hell is this guy?," adding that no one else was around because most of the partygoers had already left.

Once they got to the health center on campus, Davis says Anderson told him she could take it from there.

When Davis tried transferring Kristin, he says Paul then said something along the lines of, “I’ll take Kristin, give her to me.”

Paul's attorney, Robert Sanger, asks Davis whether he knew Kristin or Paul before the party that night to which Davis said he did not and has not seen Paul since then.

The defense then questions Davis about his reason for testifying, causing the courtroom to become tense.

Ruben Flores’s attorney, Harold Mesick, accuses Davis of tailoring his testimony to help the district attorney’s office, citing an interview Davis had with Peuvrelle where Davis said, “I want to put this f****** guy away. I’m happy to do whatever I can.”

In court, Davis confirmed he said this and reaffirms that he has told the truth while on the stand.

He added, "Twenty-five years of this night and knowing Kristin Smart is gone and dead is a lot of weight on me.”

Jennifer Hudson

The People's next witness is Jennifer Hudson who testifies she may have heard Paul admit to burying Kristin.

Hudson says she was hanging out with a group of people in June of 1996 when they heard a public announcement on the radio asking for information about Kristin Smart's disappearance. She says Paul used a derogatory term to refer to Kristin and said, "I'm done playing with her and I put her out underneath my ramp in Huasna."

She said she was scared and talked to her friend "Red" about it but Red, who went to school with Paul, told her not to worry about it because Paul told tall tales all the time.

Hudson testified seeing Paul again near the end of summer that same year. She was living in Huasna at the time and her neighbors had a party. Two of the partygoers asked Hudson for a ride to a nearby skate ramp they had been invited to by a friend. Hudson says Paul Flores was there. She says Paul asked her to go skinny dipping. She vomited and drove away.

On cross-examination, the defense questions how she knew it was Paul Flores during both encounters and asks if she could provide identifying characteristics of the boy she thought was Paul Flores. She said Paul was pale and had "dead eyes" when he made the initial statement about Kristin. When Mesick asks what the color of his eyes was, she couldn't remember.

Hudson says she never told anyone about her encounters with Flores until she told her a former roommate, Justin Goodwin, in 2002. Goodwin called a tip line to report the admission. It wasn't until 2019 when Goodwin contacted her out of the blue to tell her "Your Own Backyard" podcaster Chris Lambert wanted to speak with her because he was relaying information back to detectives and would keep her anonymous if she was on the podcast.

She testified she then spoke with San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Det. Clint Cole first on the phone on Nov. 15, 2019, and then in person a few days later.

The defense focuses on why she never told law enforcement about the possible admission until 2019. Hudson says she was scared and said, fighting back tears, "The possibility that I could have helped... I will never excuse my behavior for waiting... I apologize," adding she "carries guilt every day."

Sanger and Mesick also spend some time questioning Hudson's credibility, asking if she listened to the podcast before talking to detectives. Hudson said she had only listened to one episode before talking to Det. Cole. She said she took Lambert then Det. Cole out to the Huasna area where the ramp used to be.

At the end of the day, the defense tried to question Hudson about her possible use of substances during her encounters with Paul. On the stand, Hudson says she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol during those interactions with Paul.

Her testimony will resume Monday morning. Court will not be in session on Friday.

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ORIGINAL STORY: Prosecutors and the defense team will wrap up week two of the preliminary hearing on Thursday for Paul and Ruben Flores.

The father and son face charges in connection with Kristin Smart's 1996 disappearance from Cal Poly.

On Wednesday, the defense filed a motion to disqualify the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office from prosecuting the case, citing claims of bias involving the DA’s Office and purple ties worn during the evidence hearing.

The motion hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.

Before court ended for the day, Timothy Davis, one of the last people to see Kristin Smart alive the night she disappeared, took the stand.

His direct examination will continue Thursday.

Following the preliminary hearing, which is now expected to last through the end of the month, the judge will decide whether there is enough evidence in the case against Paul and Ruben to move forward to trial.

KSBY’s Megan Healy is in the courtroom and will have updates on KSBY and KSBY.com as they become available.