Ahead of the start of a preliminary hearing in the murder trial of Paul Flores, the man who has long been suspected in the 25-year-old disappearance and presumed murder of Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart, the San Luis Obispo County court that's hearing the case just unsealed the prosecution's statement detailing its damning evidence against Flores.
The disappearance of 19-year-old Smart following a Memorial Day Weekend party in 1996 made national headlines, and Smart's body has never been found. In April, Flores was arrested along with his father, with prosecutors saying they finally had enough evidence to bring Flores to trial.
It has long been known that Flores and a female friend of Smart's, Cheryl Anderson, were the last people to see Smart alive. But now, as the San Luis Obispo Tribune reports, we have the entire narrative from witnesses at the party, and Anderson herself, as well as friends of Flores's. Also, we now learn, one piece of the physical evidence against Flores and his 80-year-old father was the presence of human blood found in disturbed soil under a deck at the elder Flores's home. Prosecutors say that Smart's body had been buried there until recently, and was then moved.
The father, Ruben Flores, was arrested and charged as an accessory in April, and he was then released on a $50,000 bond.
Among the many incriminating details that prosecutors have from witnesses, there are statements from one of the frat brothers throwing the party that Smart, Anderson, and Flores attended at 135 Crandall Way, Tim Davis, who witnessed Flores acting drunk and extremely aggressive toward all of the women that night. And a friend and dorm-mate of Smart's, Steven Fleming, told investigators that Flores acted "very creepy" in the months leading up to Smart's disappearance, and would frequently visit Smart at her dorm room, despite her not returning his interest in her. He described Flores as seeming "hunting" Smart, often lurking around the dorm, Muir Hall, in the early morning hours.
Smart and a friend were on the hunt for a party on Friday, May 24, 1996 when they heard about the house party on Crandall Way. Davis told investigators he observed Smart being flirtatious with other male attendees, and he saw Flores and Smart at the bar together at one point, and that they fell to the ground for unknown reasons.
A female attendee described being followed around by Flores that night, and at one point he grabbed her and attempted to kiss her, and she had to shove him off.
Davis told the police that Flores "was a little weird and everybody realized it," and that people repeatedly told him "Dude, we hate you," but he persisted in bothering people that night.
Others described Flores's behavior as "hyperactive" that night. And Smart's friend at the party, Anderson, told investigators that Flores had already earned the nickname, before that night, "Chester the Molester," because of his behavior toward women.
As the Tribune reports, via Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle's statement, Davis saw Smart passed out on the lawn of the house as the party was ending around 2:30 a.m. Anderson said she would help Smart back up the hill toward their dorms, and Davis said he saw Flores lurking nearby, and joining the two women on their walk.
Flores has claimed that he had no physical contact with Smart that night apart from "two hugs" on their walk home, and that he parted ways with the two women and went home drunk to his dorm, Santa Lucia Hall, where he says he vomited. Flores's roommate, Derek Tse, described Flores as "an asshole" when he drank, and he was away all that weekend.
Despite many witness accounts to the contrary, Flores allegedly told investigators that he didn't find Smart attractive.
The prosecutors' theory in the case is that Flores took a very intoxicated Smart back to his dorm room, and attempted to sexually assault her. A black eye that a friend reports seeing Flores have on that Sunday suggests that Smart may have fought back. Then, after killing Smart in a struggle, prosecutors believe Smart's body was kept in his dorm room for some period of time and then likely removed out the window to a vehicle — possibly his sister and brother-in-law's pickup truck that he often borrowed from their nearby home.
Multiple cadaver dogs alerted to a bed frame and trash can in Flores's dorm room in the days following her disappearance, and a dog also alerted to the window frame and the side of the building outside. The first-floor window was about at the height of a pickup bed or the trunk of a car.
Flores allegedly told a close friend that he woke up with the black eye and didn't know where it came from. He later allegedly lied to investigators saying he got it from basketball, and then said he got it working on his car, when he somehow hit the steering wheel. He claimed he told a "white lie" because the real explanation sounded unlikely.
The preliminary hearing in the case begins August 2.