Paul and Ruben Flores made their first appearance in a Salinas courtroom since a change of venue motion was granted in the Kristin Smart murder trial.
The father and son are charged in connection with the Cal Poly student's 1996 disappearance.
Paul, who witnesses say was the last person to see Kristin before she disappeared, has been charged with murder and faces life behind bars if convicted. Ruben is charged with being an accessory and if convicted, faces up to three years behind bars.
Pre-trial motions got underway just before 11 a.m. Monday.
During the proceedings, the Smart family and Susan Flores, Paul's mother, watched from opposite sides of the courtroom.
One motion filed by the defense and denied by the judge before the afternoon break related to statements Paul Flores made while being interrogated in June 1996 shortly after Smart went missing. Ruben’s lawyer, Harold Mesick, argued that there would be information that would implicate his client, but the judge ruled those statements would be admissible in court.
The lawyer for Paul Flores, Robert Sanger, entered a motion to dismiss the case for “outrageous government conduct” by San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Eric Dobroth. The defense argued a search warrant conducted on May 27 of this year for Susan's phone should never have been granted. The warrant followed a police report made by a woman claiming her 8-year-old daughter saw a woman that looked like Susan Flores take a photo of her from across the street. The defense said the warrant was outrageous government conduct because they wanted to find information regarding the case on Susan’s phone.
The judge ruled the warrant was reasonable, and the motion to dismiss was denied.
The final motion filed for dismissal was related to third-party culpability. Sanger mentioned several Cal Poly students and others in the San Luis Obispo area at the time of Smart’s disappearance in hopes the judge would grant the motion to dismiss because of their possible involvement, but the judge also denied that motion.
Jury selection is set for June 20 and opening statements are scheduled to begin on July 6. Each defendant will have his own jury.
Monterey County Judge Jennifer O'Keefe has been selected to preside over what will likely be a lengthy trial. It was announced on Monday that the trial is expected to last through October.
O’Keefe explained that more than 1,500 potential jurors will be screened with 12 jurors and eight alternates chosen for each defendant. During the trial, each jury will alternate locations in the courtroom weekly. The jurors from each pool will be ordered to remain separate and secluded from the other.
Records show Paul was transferred to the Monterey County Jail late last week. Ruben is currently out of custody.
On Monday, Monterey County officials released a new booking photo of Paul Flores.
Pretrial conferences to hear additional motions will continue throughout this week in Salinas.
The judge has denied audio and video recording of these hearings and the upcoming trial but is allowing still photography.