Paul Flores has been found guilty of murdering Kristin Smart of Stockton in 1996.
Jurors unanimously convicted Flores, who was one of Smart’s college classmate at the time, of first-degree murder, the San Luis Obispo Tribune reported. His father, Ruben Flores was acquitted on the charge of accessory to murder. The case had been unsolved for 26 years.
The verdict in the case against Flores was announced at approximately 1:30 p.m. Tuesday. Smart’s father, Stan Smart of Stockton, was flanked by family members as he spoke at a post-verdict press conference carried live by several news outlets.
“Without Kristen, there is no joy or happiness in this verdict. After 26 years, with today’s split verdicts we learned that our quest for justice for Kristin will continue,” Stan Smart said. “This has been agonizingly long journey with more downs than ups but we are grateful and appreciate the diligence and energy of the two juries to thoroughly review the facts and reach their decisions. Our faith in the justice system has been renewed by their commitment and effort.”
Stan Smart thanked prosecutors and law enforcement for their effort and also praised blogger Chris Lambert, who spent years following the case through his “Your Own Backyard” podcast. Via family spokesperson John Segale, the Smart family said that they will not be speaking to the media again in the foreseeable future and asked the public to respect their privacy.
San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said the verdict against Flores was a long time coming. Flores and his father were arrested in April 2021 in connection with Smart’s death, though they tried separately but concurrently. Their trials both began in June.
“The impact that Kristin’s disappearance and its investigation have had on the Smart family and our community, spanning a quarter century, is profound,” said Dow said. “We thank them for the tremendous trust and patience they have placed in the investigation and prosecution of this terrible crime. This verdict provides some sense of justice for Kristin, the Smarts and our community. Today, justice delayed is not justice denied.”
Kristin Denise Smart was born February 20, 1977, in West Germany and her family moved to Stockton when she was a child. She graduated from Lincoln High School in 1995.
Smart went missing from her dorm at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1996. Prosecutors accused one her fellow students, Flores, of killing her during a rape or attempted rape in his dorm room. During the trial, which began in June, they presented evidence that attempted to show his father, Ruben Flores, helped dispose of Smart’s body. It has never been found.
Ruben Flores spoke to the media after his acquittal and said while he is relieved, he is worried about his son.
When asked for a comment regarding the victim’s family, he said that “I feel bad for them because they didn’t get no answers about what happened to their daughter and we don’t know what happened to their daughter.”
Smart’s disappearance resulted in state legislation, including the Kristin Smart Campus Security Act, a bill which requires public colleges and publicly funded institutions in the state to have their security services make agreements with local police departments regarding cases involving or possibly involving violence against students, including missing students..