There has been a wealth of circumstantial evidence, and some compelling physical evidence in the trial of Paul Flores and his father Ruben Flores. And the Monterey County jury was listening to closing arguments on Monday.
The defense rested last week in the months-long trial of the Floreses — who are being tried together but by separate juries. As we've reported here previously, the prosecution's case hinges on multiple witnesses who went to school with Kristin Smart and Paul Flores at Cal Poly in 1996, several of whom testified to the fact that Flores appeared obsessed with Smart in the months before her disappearance, and even "hunted" her at her dorm room. Flores was the last to see Smart alive, and at least one witness saw him walking a very incapacitated — possibly drugged — Smart back toward his dorm, after he said he was walking her back to her dorm following an off-campus frat party.
Flores was seen with a black eye at a basketball game in the ensuing days — a black eye he told investigators he got playing basketball, though other players said he already had it when he arrived.
And a cadaver dog responded to the area of Flores's dorm-room mattress as well as his first-floor window — with the prosecutors' theory that Flores kept Smart's lifeless body in the room for some period of time before getting help from his family to load her out the window into a waiting vehicle.
Smart's remains have never been found, but several experts testified to the appearance of disturbed soil under a deck at Ruben Flores's home, and to the presence of human blood a few layers deep in that soil — though DNA testing was not possible on the sample.
One of the most damning pieces of witness testimony came from a woman, Jennifer Hudson, who only came forward a couple of years ago. Hudson said she had heard Flores brag about killing Smart during the summer of 1996, calling her a "dick tease" and claiming she was buried under his skate ramp at that time.
As KCBX reports, one of the final witnesses called by the defense last week was an investigator with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department who was assigned to the case in 2017, Clint Cole. Cole testified that he was not able to connect Flores to a property in Huasna that Hudson claimed to have gone to with other skateboarding friends, where he apparently claimed the body was.
Other damning testimony came from two women who claimed to have been drugged and sexually assaulted by Flores in the last two decades while he's been free.
"For crimes that happen in a bedroom, there are no witnesses. But ground-penetrating radar, a forensic archeologist, and a lab supervisor tell us what Kristin could not," said Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle in a closing argument Monday, per KRON4. "We don’t have a full intact body in this case, but we have her blood. A couple grains of bloody sand. That’s all the Smart family has left of their daughter. [Rape victims] ‘Sarah Doe’ and ‘Rhonda Doe’ tell us what Kristin could not. That she was raped. They speak for Kristin. You have everything you need to render a guilty verdict."
The prosecution has also tried to paint a narrative, backed up by neighbors of Ruben Flores, that his ex-wife Susan arrived at his house in 2021 shortly after the cops came asking questions again along with her boyfriend, and the group helped Paul Flores to relocate Smart's remains from under the deck.
"Now you know where she was all along. She was under their deck," Peuvrelle said, per KRON4. "The community moved heaven and earth to try to find her. Paul and Ruben, they moved the dirt under their deck to hide her. Justice delayed does not have to be justice denied. We now know the truth. The truth is out. The truth is Kristin was plucked off the face of the Earth by Paul Flores."
The defense was expected to make its closing arguments beginning Monday afternoon, and jury deliberation should begin this week.