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Legal expert believes DA has tight case against Paul Flores

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Posted at 11:52 PM, Apr 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 02:52:36-04

Local attorney James McKiernan says the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow wouldn't bring charges against Paul Flores without enough evidence to convict him.

Flores and his father, Ruben, are charged with felony murder and accessory to murder respectively.

“The DA feels that they have a solid base," McKiernan said. "The defense is going to say it is a house of cards. It’s taken them 25 years to get little pieces of evidence that could go either way, the defense is going to say.”

But, McKiernan says the District Attorney likely wouldn't risk losing this case unless he felt he had enough evidence.

Back in 1996, Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly freshman, witnesses say she was last seen walking to the dorms with Paul Flores. Since then, he has been a person of interest, and then this year, the prime suspect in her disappearance.

Today, investigators searched Ruben Flores' home in Arroyo Grande for the second time in a few weeks.

“They can’t just pull this out of the sky, they have to have some sort of evidence, some sort of communication, some sort of emails," James McKiernan said of the charge against Ruben Flores. "I’ve seen reference that there are some witnesses to probably statements that have been made or contact that has happened and based on that, he is an accessory and he is chargeable to the same extent as his son.”

Dow announced today at a press conference they believe Smart died while Flores attempted rape, or during the commission of rape.

The Statute of Limitations, which was in effect during Smart's disappearance, remains lawful.

"The Statute of Limitations on a rape charge from 1996 has already expired considering the fact that Kristin was an adult over eighteen…So we do not anticipate filing charges on a specific rape but the allegation that he was committing or attempting to commit a rape is the basis when he killed her is the basis for which we are able to file first degree felony murder charges,” Dow said.

However, McKiernon said, “Here I don’t know exactly what their evidence is, but I do know that it wasn’t just malice but it was sexually charged or enhanced malice. In the eyes of the law, that calls for a worse penalty.”

So far, Dow has not revealed what evidence they have, but say they believe they know where Smart's remains are.

The Smart Family released a statement that says in part:

"We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten."