Paul Flores’ jury continues their deliberation of his fate
SAN LUIS OBISPO — After just over six hours of deliberation, Ruben Flores’s jury has reached its verdict at the Monterey County Superior Courtroom in Salinas on Monday, Oct. 17.
While Ruben and his son Paul Flores were tried together, they had separate juries. Presiding Judge Jennifer O’Keefe has ruled that both verdicts will be read back to back. Paul’s jury continues with their deliberation.
Paul Flores is charged with the 1996 murder and disappearance of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. His father, Ruben Flores, is charged with helping his son cover up the crime. They were both arrested in April 2021.
Following O’Keefe receiving the verdict, which was locked away in a safebox, Paul’s attorney Robert Sanger filed a motion for mistrial. Reports say that Sanger’s private investigator saw a member of the prosecution hug one of Kristin’s family members.
While Sanger declared the action was inappropriate, O’Keefe denied the motion.
Closing arguments wrapped up in the trial on Oct. 5, but on Thursday, Oct. 13, one of Ruben’s jurors was excused from court. Reports say that the juror was questioned by O’Keefe about whether he spoke about the case to his priest at church. This information came to the judge from another juror.
The excused juror told the court that he had not discussed any of the case specifics with his priest, only that he needed spiritual guidance. Despite that, O’Keefe excused the juror and an alternate was sworn in shortly after. Jurors were instructed to start their deliberations from the beginning to catch the new juror up to speed.
It is unknown when Paul’s jury will reach its verdict.
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.
Paso Robles Press will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer J. OÕKeefe hands the verdict envelope to the courtroom clerk for safe keeping until the jury in the Paul Flores case reaches a verdict.
(Laura Dickinson/The Tribune San Luis Obispo)