The hearing has been adjourned for the rest of the week and is expected to start again Monday, August 30
SAN LUIS OBISPO – On the 13th day of the preliminary hearing for Paul (44) and Ruben (80) Flores, Judge van Rooyen denied the defense’s motion to remove the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney from the case.
The father and son are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance and murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. Paul has been charged with her murder, and Ruben is being charged with accessory after the fact.
Paul’s defense attorney, Robert Sanger, filed a motion to disqualify the DA’s office from the case based on him wearing purple ties–purple is said to be Kristin’s favorite color and is often worn in support of her case.
Sanger argued that wearing the color showed the prosecution is biased and also mentioned Detective Clinton Cole and other members of the court wearing purple throughout the hearing.
A representative from the Attorney General’s office appeared in court on Wednesday to address the issue. If the DA were to be disqualified, then the AG would take over the case.
He argued that California appellate courts have determined that colors do not matter during the preliminary stage of the case when there is no jury.
Judge van Rooyen officially denied the motion saying he did not agree that the defendant would be prejudiced. However, he did grant the defense’s motion for a review of Detective Cole’s personal records to look for any alleged misconduct with witness Jennifer during the Kristin Smart investigation or any of his other cases in the last five years.
Jennifer previously testified in the preliminary hearing that in 1996, she heard Paul Flores use a derogatory term to refer to Kristin Smart and said, “I’m done playing with her, and I put her out underneath my ramp in Huasna.”
However, she did not report this to law enforcement until speaking with Detective Cole in 2019.
Following Wednesday’s motions, the court was adjourned for the rest of the week and is expected to resume on Monday, Aug. 30.
Court was not in session on Tuesday, so attorneys could work on discovery. Discovery is the process in which the two sides collect and exchange information about evidence and witnesses in the case.
During Monday’s hearing, the court heard testimony from retired San Luis Obispo County Deputy Sheriff Henry Stewart, who was one of the early investigators on the case.
Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested this past April, nearly 25 years after Smart’s disappearance. She was last seen walking back to the dorms with Paul Flores after an off-campus party on the early morning of May 25, 1996.
Kristin’s body was never found, but she was declared legally dead on May 25, 2002.