A San Luis Obispo County judge, presiding over a preliminary hearing for Paul Flores and his father, Ruben, has ruled that there is sufficient evidence for both to be tried in connection with the murder of college student Kristin Smart. The younger Flores was arrested in April, nearly 25 years after Smart disappeared. He was the last person to see her alive, having been seen walking with her toward university dormitories. Over the years, authorities have listed him as a “person of interest,” a “suspect,” and a “prime suspect,” and have tapped his phone and searched his parents’ homes. Because Smart’s body was never found (she was declared legally dead in 2002), they were unable to formally accuse him until this year.
Ruben Flores will be tried as an accessory to the murder, allegedly having stored Smart’s body beneath a deck at his home and later moving it. At the preliminary hearing this week, their attorney tried to argue “there was no consistent theory” about what had happened to Smart’s body. But prosecutors called up witness after witness to attest to Flores’ violent, predatory, and stalker-like behavior. One gave testimony that Flores admitted committing the Smart killing to her in 1996. Paul and Ruben Flores are scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 20.