NewsKristin Smart Case


Ruben Flores' attorney could represent Paul Flores at next hearing

Paul Flores 8-2.PNG
Posted at 4:44 PM, Jul 26, 2023

Paul Flores is expected back in court next month where a hearing is set to discuss a change of counsel for the man convicted of murdering Kristin Smart.

Flores was found guilty by a Monterey County jury last October of killing and raping or attempting to rape Smart in 1996. He was sentenced to 25 years-to-life behind bars after Monterey County Judge Jennifer O’Keefe called him “a cancer to society.”

With Robert Sanger, who represented Flores since before his 2021 preliminary hearing, now reportedly off the case, at least temporarily, Flores is requesting new counsel represent him and the attorney is no stranger to the case.

Sanger 2 10-4.JPG
Paul Flores' attorney, Robert Sanger, presents closing arguments in the Kristin Smart murder trial.

Harold Mesick tells KSBY that Flores has requested him as substitute counsel for the restitution portion of the Kristin Smart case. The hearing would only relate to new counsel being appointed. A hearing on the determination of restitution would take place at a later date.

Restitution hearings are required in all criminal cases in California.

Harold Mesick 7-25.JPG
Defense attorney Harold Mesick appears in court on Monday, July 26, 2022.

Mesick represented Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, during their three-month-long dual jury trial last year. Ruben was charged as an accessory, accused of helping Paul hide Smart’s body. While the father and son sat side-by-side for the duration of the trial, which took place in a Monterey County courtroom from July through October, both defendants had separate juries and Ruben was ultimately acquitted. 

Kristin Smart went missing over Memorial Day weekend in 1996 following an off-campus party. She was a freshman at Cal Poly at the time. While Paul had been a person-of-interest in the case since shortly after her disappearance, he was not arrested and charged with the 19-year-old’s murder until nearly 25 years after she went missing.

Kristin Smart.PNG
Kristin Smart

While testimony at trial alleged Kristin was, at one time, buried underneath the deck of Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande home, her remains were not discovered during searches there in 2020 and 2021 and still have yet to be found. 

In April, Sanger filed a notice of appeal with the court. The documents requested that a court-appointed attorney be assigned to Flores for his appeal.

Paul has been behind bars since his April 2021 arrest and has been housed at North Kern State Prison in Kern County since March 30 of this year. It’s expected he will be moved to a more permanent facility at a later date.

Paul Flores mug 23.JPG