The witness stand where Sarah Doe testified Sept. 2, 2022. Pool Photo by ABC News Dateline
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Last week was a difficult one for jurors in the Kristin Smart case as they heard another testimony from a woman accusing Paul Flores of rape and testimonies from experts who surveyed under Ruben Flores porch on White Court in Arroyo Grande in 2021.
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.
After concluding testimonies on Friday, Judge Jennifer O’Keefe said court will not be back in session until Wednesday, Sept. 7, but she added that the trial is currently ahead of schedule.
Wednesday, Aug. 31
Testimonies on Wednesday consisted mainly from witnesses who assisted in searching Ruben’s backyard in March 2021.
Karen Atkinson retraced her steps from her search of the property with her dog Amiga. Her dog was the first canine to search the property that day. Following her, archeologist Philip Hanes took the stand. During the search he used a ground-penetrating radar and reported finding an anomaly under Ruben’s porch.
An anomaly is a disturbance in the dirt such as a hole that was dug and then refilled.
The anomaly that Hanes reported finding under the deck was a 6-by-4-foot disturbance and 3.5 feet deep.
Thursday, Sept. 1
On Thursday, testimonies continued with witnesses from the March search. The first witness of the day was Cindy Arrington, an archaeologist with Hanes and owner of Natural Investigations Company, whom San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office hired for the search.
She testified the use of ground-penetrating radar uncovered several anomalies in the soil with darker soil consistent with human decomposition. According to her testimony, the staining was found about two feet deep but continued deeper.
According to reports, when photos of the soil staining were shown, one of Paul’s jurors began to cry, and other jurors seemed to have tears in their eyes. This prompted Judge Jennifer O’Keefe to stop testimony and take lunch early.
During cross-examination, Arrington said the stains could have been caused by roots, human or animal remains but clarified it would have been from organic material.
Arrington answered more questions from Paul’s attorney, Robert Sanger, including if any fibers or fabric were found on the site, like a tarp that a body could have been wrapped in. She clarified there were no pieces of fabric found but that tarps are not organic material and decompose at a much slower rate.
Friday, Sept. 2
Testimony on Friday included one from a woman, referred to as “Sarah Doe,” who said Paul raped her more than 10 years ago.
While on the stand, Sarah said she met Paul at the Crimson Bar in San Pedro and identified him in the courtroom. Throughout the night, Sarah said she noticed Paul looking in her direction and at one point he approached her.
Sarah said he was at the bar with her friends and at one point Paul bought her and her friends drinks, and they had a few minutes of conversation at the bar.
Reports say Sarah took a moment to pause and tell the court she was nervous and went on to describe a fight that broke out, causing her and a friend to be pushed out of the bar. She says she does not remember a lot of things from that point on.
Sarah did remember rushing to her car, saying she and two friends and Paul got into her car to move it away from the fight, but her memory becomes foggy after that, adding she does not remember how her friend got home that night.
Throughout the night, Sarah said she had about four to five drinks over about four hours that night but had drunken a similar amount of drinks before and after that night, and her memory never became as foggy as it had the night with Paul.
Sarah was able to describe Paul’s home as dirty, as if he was a hoarder. She said Paul gave her something to drink but she stood there shocked at the condition of the home and believed she took the drink. She did not think it was alcoholic.
Sarah then begins to describe the rest of the night, saying she was going in and out of consciousness but remembers being in his bedroom and Paul on top of her.
According to reports, Sarah wiped away tears as she described the events that unfolded.
Sarah said she did not consent to the sex that Paul proceeded to have with her in the bedroom and again in the shower. She described other memories that included Paul trying to gag her with a sex toy.
The next morning Sarah said she woke up, and Paul tried to say something to her. According to reports, Sarah told Paul, “When someone tells you no, you know, it means no.”
Sarah told the jury she had bruises on her body and was sore for a few days. She added Paul texted her a day or two later, but she doesn’t remember what she responded to him with.
After their first encounter, Sarah said she would run into Paul randomly but would not interact with him.
Sarah told the jury she did not initially report the incident to the law enforcement because she was confused from the night but did attempt to report it a few years later. However, while speaking to authorities, she gave up because she did not know the answers to their questions.
Sarah said she met with Det. Clint Cole and another investigator in June 2021 and was shown a photo lineup where she picked Paul as the person who assaulted her. Shortly after the lineup was shown in the court, Judge O’Keefe ordered a break. Reports say multiple jurors for both defendants were seen crying and passing tissues throughout Sarah’s testimony.
Following the break, Sanger started his cross-examination of Sarah.
Sarah told the jury that she told a friend about her encounter with Paul before hearing about the “Your Own Backyard” podcast but added she has tried to avoid the podcast. She told Sanger that she had not seen Paul was a person of interest until years after her encounter with him.
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 will have separate juries.
Atascadero News will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.