On June 13 the court will begin screening and selecting potential jurors
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Pretrial hearings for the murder trial of Paul and Ruben Flores wrapped up on Tuesday. Prosecution and defense teams will return to the Monterey Courthouse on June 13 to begin the jury selection.
Several motions were heard from the defense and prosecution during the second hearing of pretrial proceedings.
Presiding Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ruled that Kristin Smart can be referred to as a victim and Paul Flores can be referred to as a defendant — both of which the defense tried to overturn.
Paul’s lead attorney Robert Sanger argued that calling Smart a victim is “inappropriate” as it offers a conclusion. Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle countered that there is “no doubt” Smart is a victim in the case.
O’Keefe stated in the court’s view, that Smart was a victim of some kind, and the term victim does not imply the defendant’s guilt.
The defense then motioned to have Paul referred to by name and not refer to him as a defendant claiming the term offers a pejorative designation. However, Ruben’s attorney Harold Mesick did not agree that using the term defendant was inappropriate.
Additional motions will be decided on at a later date by the judge.
On June 13 the court will begin screening and selecting more than 1,500 potential jurors. Twelve jurors and eight alternates will be chosen for each defendant.
Smart was last seen with Paul 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 and Ruben Flores were arrested at their homes in April 2021, nearly 25 years after Smart’s disappearance.
Paul is charged with her murder. His father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory after the fact, accused of helping hide Smart’s body. According to records, Paul is now in Monterey County Jail. Ruben Flores is currently out on bail.
Opening statements are set to take place July 6 in Salinas.
Feature Photo courtesy of courthouse pool photo: Chloe Jones/The SLO Tribune