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Paul Flores makes remote court appearance ahead of March sentencing for Kristin Smart murder

Flores status hearing 2-9.JPG
Posted at 3:25 PM, Feb 09, 2023

Kristin Smart’s killer made a remote appearance in a Monterey County courtroom Thursday afternoon.

The status hearing for Paul Flores was scheduled by Superior Court Judge Jennifer O'Keefe in December when she granted the sentencing delay.

Flores, 46, was convicted by a jury last October in Smart’s murder. A separate jury acquitted Paul’s father, Ruben Flores, of being an accessory after the fact.

Judge O’Keefe, who oversaw the trial for both men, has been very upfront with the attorneys in the case that whatever post-verdict motions will be brought before her will need to be ready by the sentencing date set for March 10.

Paul’s attorney, Robert Sanger, requested a sentencing delay in December so he could prepare and file a motion for a new trial. In his request, he noted that he had new information about the case, but didn't elaborate on what that was.

He also told Judge O'Keefe back then that he was waiting for transcripts from the trial to be completed.

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Judge Jennifer O'Keefe during a status hearing Feb. 9 in the Kristin Smart murder case.

The judge granted the delay but warned Sanger she would not delay the sentencing again and set the status hearing for February 9 to make sure both parties would be ready.

Retired Santa Barbara County Judge Frank Ochoa appeared on behalf of Sanger during Thursday's hearing. He noted that the motion for a new trial still was not complete but would be filed in time for sentencing. Sanger was not able to attend the hearing due to a conflict.

Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle told the court that he would strongly object to any further delays and said the defense has had plenty of time to prepare any new motions.

The judge said the March 10 sentencing date would remain in place and asked attorneys to review a new probation report, which she described as lengthy, and respond with any corrections.

Judge O’Keefe also told the attorneys that the Smart family is expected to be in court during sentencing and that if any issues arise before then, to notify the court immediately. She again reminded everyone involved with the case that she would not entertain many further delays unless absolutely necessary.

The Smart family is allowed to make an impact statement during sentencing but there has been no indication from Kristin’s family about how they expect to address the court in March.

Paul Flores remains in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail while he awaits sentencing, which will take place in Salinas where his trial was held.

He was tried for the murder of Smart more than 25 years after her disappearance from the Cal Poly campus in May 1996. Paul, a longtime person of interest in the Cal Poly freshman's disappearance was arrested and charged with her murder in April 2021. He's remained in custody ever since. Kristin's body has never been found.

For more on the trial and Kristin Smart case, click here.