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Detective in Kristin Smart case testifies human blood, suspicious staining found in soil at suspect's home

Day 16 Flores preliminary hearing morning 4 .jpg
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Posted at 10:30 AM, Sep 01, 2021

UPDATE - San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Detective Clint Cole returned to the witness stand Wednesday in the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, testifying that searches of Ruben's home turned up evidence leading them to believe human remains had been buried there.

Paul Flores is charged with the murder of Kristin Smart, who disappeared from Cal Poly in 1996. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory.

Det. Cole testified about why investigators believe a crime was committed at Ruben's property on White Court in Arroyo Grande.

He discussed some of the evidence that was collected during searches of the property, including anomalies in the backyard and a 4-foot deep hole under the deck containing fibers and human blood.

He also said there was suspicious staining in the soil indicative of human remains.

Cole also testified that on March 9, 2020, a witness reported some suspicious activity at the property. A trailer was reportedly parked at Ruben's residence at odd hours and Paul's mother, Susan Flores, and her boyfriend were there.

The sheriff's office seized the trailer and Det. Cole said a search of it revealed "suspicious activity."

He said a chemical called Bluestar, which detects bodily fluids, was used on the trailer and that there was a reaction on the right side of the trailer showing a stain that could be similar to a human being lying on its side.

Later, the sheriff's office obtained a warrant for Ruben's DNA and Det. Cole went to his White Court home to collect it on May 19, 2021.

That's when Cole said Ruben asked why they would also be collecting DNA from Susan Flores and her boyfriend and Ruben told him, "They did not commit a felony, only I did."

Det. Cole said he has the admission on a digital tape recording.

On Tuesday, Cole testified that Ruben clarified that he meant he was the only one of the three who had been arrested.

Cole also testified that the Flores family was wiretapped for 30 days starting on January 5, 2020.

He also said that law enforcement leaked information to "Your Own Backyard" podcaster Chris Lambert. Specifically, that they had Paul's white Nissan pickup in their possession.

Cole said this was done so Lambert would include the information in his podcast during the time of the wiretap.

Cole also talked about his interview with Jennifer Hudson in November 2019.

Hudson previously testified during the preliminary hearing that while hanging out with a group of skateboarders in San Luis Obispo in 1996, she heard Paul Flores use a derogatory term to refer to Kristin Smart and say, "I'm done playing with her and I put her out underneath my ramp in Huasna."

She said she didn't tell law enforcement about it until she talked to Det. Cole in 2019.

Cole testified that Hudson told him about Paul's statement and that she'd also seen Paul with his white pickup truck at the skateboard ramp in Huasna.

Cole said investigators checked out the skateboard ramp location but did not find a body.

The defense argued that other skateboarders who were at the San Luis Obispo location said they never saw Paul there, and Hudson's boyfriend denied ever seeing Paul in Huasna or anywhere else.

Also taking the witness stand on Wednesday was Edward Chadwell. He built the home on White Court for Ruben and Susan Flores in 1991.

Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle asked him if he found the remains of any monkeys or ferrets or any human bodies on the property. Chadwell answered no.

Three more witnesses are expected to take the stand on Thursday, including two cadaver dog handlers.
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ORIGINAL STORY - Paul and Ruben Flores are back in court Wednesday for another day of their preliminary hearing.

The two are charged in connection with the death of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart. She disappeared in 1996 after attending an off-campus party and while she was declared legally dead in 2002, her body has never been found.

During Tuesday’s hearing, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole testified about a conversation he had with Ruben Flores at his Arroyo Grande home when Cole was there to obtain a DNA swab.

Cole reportedly testified that Ruben asked why Susan Flores, who is Paul’s mother, and her boyfriend were also being swabbed when he was the only one who committed a felony. Cole said that Ruben then clarified that he meant he was the only one of the three to have been arrested.

Also on the stand Tuesday were another cadaver dog handler, an expert in fiber evidence and a district attorney's office investigator.

Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.

KSBY will have more on what takes place in court on KSBY.com and KSBY News at 5 and 6 p.m.

The hearing began August 2 and is expected to last into at least next week.