The trial is unexpectedly going dark until Sept. 19
SAN LUIS OBISPO — Following testimonies on Monday, the court unexpectedly announced Tuesday morning, Sept. 13, that court will remain dark for the remainder of the week and return on Monday, Sept. 19, at 8:30 a.m.
There was no reason given as to why the court has been delayed.
Testimony from Thursday, Sept. 8, resumed on Monday with witness Jennifer Hudson who testified that in 1996, Paul Flores told her he put Kristin Smart under the skate ramp on his property in Huasna.
Paul Flores is on trial for the 1996 murder of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Smart. His father, Ruben Flores, is on trial for helping his son cover up the crime.
When she first took the stand on Thursday, Hudson told the jury she came forward with the information after the “Your Own Backyard” podcast was released. She explained to the court that when she was 17 years old, in 1996, Paul told her the information when she met him at a skate ramp in San Luis Obispo. According to Hudson, Paul made the comment after a public service announcement came on the radio about Kristin. Hudson did not tell anyone about the conversation until much later, adding that when she saw Paul again a few weeks after the comment, she became sick to her stomach.
In 2002, after a night of drinking, Hudson told her friend Justin Goodwin about the comments made by Paul. She told the court that Goodwin connected her with Lambert in 2019, whom she spoke to prior to authorities. It was revealed later in court that Goodwin alerted the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Office through its anonymous tip line.
Hudson was pressed by the defense under cross examination for explanations for why she eventually came forward with the information, and was accused for saying what Chris Lambert, creator of the podcast, wanted her to say with the goal of collecting the reward money.
Later in cross-examination, Hudson revealed that she and Goodwin took Lambert to the area where the skate ramp was located in the Huasna area during the ’90s.
According to Hudson, Lambert told her not to share the information with the sheriff’s office, but she did tell investigators everything when she spoke with them.
Hudson’s testimony continued on Monday, Sept. 12, with Hudson breaking down while on the stand throughout her testimony. According to reports, Hudson told the court she felt responsible for the Smart family’s continued pain.
Throughout cross-examination, Hudson was pressed by the defense on her history of drug use and involvement with a motorcycle gang. However, both defense attorneys were asked by Judge Jennifer O’Keefe to refrain from questioning Hudson on those subjects.
Following Hudson’s testimony, Justin Goodwin took the stand.
Goodwin is the friend and former roommate of Hudson. It was in 2002 that Hudson told Goodwin of Paul’s comments regarding where Kristin’s remains were buried. He said Hudson seemed afraid after he tried to get more information from her about the comments Paul made.
Although Hudson told Goodwin to keep the information to himself, he told the court that he reported the information three different times — once to the FBI, once to the “Son of Susan” website, and again to the SLO County Sheriff’s office in 2019.
A third witness took the stand on Monday, but her testimony was cut short. Angela Butler, a forensic DNA analyst, took the stand, but the court day ended before she answered any questions pertaining to the case.
However, the day was not over as Judge O’Keefe met with a juror who expressed concerns regarding Paul’s defense attorney Robert Sanger’s aggressive questioning — specifically, him repeatedly asking the same questions.
It was determined by the judge and juror that the juror could remain unbiased.
This is not the first time the juror has brought forward these concerns. According to reports, the first time she expressed anxiety about the case and aggresive questioning, and the second time pertained to archaelogical evidence.
Sanger raised his own concerns that the juror could not remain unbiased, but the judge determined otherwise and the juror will remain.
Paso Robles Press / Atascadero News will be following this story and update as new information becomes available.
Feature Photo: Jennifer Hudson continuing her testimony from Thursday in the Kristin Smart murder trial Monday, Sept. 12, at the Monterey Superior Court, in Salinas. Pool Photo by Laura Dickinson/SLO Tribune