Court is expected to resume on Thursday with closing arguments 

SAN LUIS OBISPO — After over two months of testimony, the defense rested its case in the Kristin Smart murder trial. The prosecution began the trial on July 18 and rested its case last just last week — now, one week later, the defense concluded their side of the case on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

According to reports, court was adjourned late Tuesday afternoon after Paul Flores’ defense attorney Robert Sanger and his father Ruben Flores’ defense attorney Harold Mesick concluded their presentations. Court is expected to resume on Thursday. On Wednesday, different parties involved in the case will meet to discuss the next steps in the trial in an off-the-record meeting.

Paul Flores is on trial for Kristin’s murder. The 19-year-old Cal Poly student went missing following the Crandall Way party over Memorial Day weekend in May 1996. His father, Ruben Flores, is accused of helping his son cover up the crime.


According to a tweet from the podcast “Your Own Backyard,” Sanger rested his case due to circumstances beyond their control. The podcast was created and narrated by Chris Lambert, who attended every day of the trial. Lambert recounts that later in court, they learned Sanger’s expert witness, Dr. Jim Ha, was unable to book a flight to Salinas due to the impending hurricane in Florida.

Paul’s mother, Susan Flores, was present for the first day in court since opening statements, according to Lambert.

Throughout the defense’s turn to call witnesses, Sanger brought several detectives and scientists to the stand. 

His first witness was Dr. David Carter, a professor at Chaminade University in Hawaii, who spent the past 20 years studying what happens to bodies after death. 

Dr. Elizabeth Johnson was the next witness called the stand. She is a forensic scientist with a private practice.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, former San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detective Henry Stewart was called to the stand. Stewart worked alongside another detective in 1996 on the Kristin Smart case. According to reports, Stewart testified that in 2001, he and another detective worked with the FBI to conduct an undercover investigation to obtain a confession from Paul.

Finally, SLO County Sheriff’s detective Clint Cole was called to the stand. Cole was officially assigned the case in 2017.

While on the stand, reports say that Cole follows the ‘Justice for Kristin Smart’ Facebook page and issued concern that the page could jeopardize the investigation. 

Later in his testimony, reports say Cole told the court that he was aware of a previous search at Susan’s home on Branch Street in Arroyo Grande and that no evidence was collected from there.

Closing arguments are expected to take place later this week, with jury deliberations to follow.

While Kristin’s remains have not been found, she was legally declared dead in 2002. The trial was moved to Salinas after San Luis Obispo County Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled the father and son would not receive a fair trial in SLO County. While Paul and Ruben are being tried together, they have separate juries. 

Atascadero News will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.

Feature Photo: The defense rested its case in the Kristin Smart murder trial on Tuesday, Sept. 27, in Salinas. Pool Photo