A new trial date will be decided Monday, April 25, for father-son pair arrested in death of Kristin Smart

SAN LUIS OBISPO — A new venue location has been chosen for trial of Paul and Ruben Flores, the father-son pair arrested in the 1996 disappearance and death of Kristin Smart. 

The trial is moving to Monterey County and a new trial date will be determined at a pre-trial conference on Monday, April 25, at 1:30 p.m. via Zoom.

After some delays, the court came to order on Wednesday, April 20, to declare the new venue location for the trial of Paul (45) and Ruben (80) Flores. The presiding judge, Craig van Rooyen, granted a change of venue of the case on March 30, saying he finds it a reasonable likelihood Paul and Ruben Flores won’t receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County. He added media coverage of the case over time weighed on his decision, specifically how coverage and interest in the case have increased over the years.

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The father and son were arrested at their homes in April 2021 in connection with the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. They were arrested nearly 25 years to the date of Smart’s disappearance.

Smart was last seen with Paul Flores leaving an off-campus party on Crandall Way in San Luis Obispo on May 25, 1996. Although her remains have never been found, Smart was legally declared dead in 2002. 

Paul Flores is charged with Smart’s murder. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory after the fact, accused of helping hide Smart’s body. Paul has remained in custody at the San Luis Obispo County Jail without bail since his arrest. Ruben is currently out on bail.

In court on Wednesday, Judge van Rooyen said he had spoken to the Monterey County judge to discuss which department the trial will be held in and when they will be ready to take the case, but the Monterey judge did not have that information available yet. 

Additionally, during the hearing, Paul’s defense lawyer Robert Sanger said he had not received discovery regarding Serological Research Institute (SERI) testing results and a “particular location” at Cal Poly. SERI is a private forensics lab in Northern California. 

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle agreed to send the discovery to the defense as soon as they are available.

This is a developing story; we will update as information becomes available.