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Opening statements begin in Kristin Smart murder trial

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Posted at 10:25 PM, Jul 17, 2022

Opening statements got underway Monday morning in the trial for Paul and Ruben Flores.

The father and son were arrested in April 2021 and charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart.

Paul faces a charge of murder, while Ruben is charged as an accessory, accused of helping cover up the alleged crime.

Our camera caught some of the key players in the case as they arrived at the Monterey County Superior Courthouse in Salinas on Monday morning -- San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Detective Clint Cole, defense attorney Robert Sanger, San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth and District Attorney Dan Dow, and Susan (Paul's mother) and Ruben Flores.

Key players in Kristin Smart murder trial arrive at court for opening statements

Opening statements began Monday with the prosecution.

“Evidence will show Paul Flores murdered Kristin Smart and buried her under the deck,” Peuvrelle said, referring to a deck at Ruben Flores' Arroyo Grande home.

While the two men are being tried at the same time, they will each have separate juries.

Monday morning, Paul’s jury was seated in the courtroom during opening statements for his case. In the afternoon, it will be Ruben’s jury in the courtroom.

Throughout much of the trial, there will be times when both juries hear the same evidence as it’s presented but other times, one jury may be removed from the courtroom if certain testimony or evidence is only admissible for one defendant.

The juries will each hand down separate verdicts once the trial wraps up, which is not expected until at least October.

While Kristin’s body has never been found, she was declared legally dead in 2002.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe is overseeing the trial in Salinas after a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge ruled Paul and Ruben were not likely to receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County after the years of extensive publicity the case has had.

Paul is currently being held in Monterey County Jail without bail. Ruben is out of custody after posting bail shortly after his arrest.

Opening statements are expected to conclude for both Paul and Ruben on Monday with the start of evidence in the case being presented as early as Tuesday.

KSBY will be in the courthouse for opening statements and will have the latest on what takes place on KSBY and KSBY.com.

The trial will not be streamed as Judge O’Keefe is not allowing any audio or video recordings, only still photography.