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Kristin Smart trial: Closing statements begin after defense rests case

A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.
Gabriela Fernandez
A polling location in San Luis Obispo prepares for election day.

The Kristin Smart murder trial is nearing its conclusion, as the defense has now rested their case and all parties have concluded presenting evidence.

On Tuesday Sep. 27, the defense called their last witness: Clint Cole, the lead investigator of the Kristin Smart case for the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department assigned to the case in 2017.

Cole primarily clarified testimony from Jennifer Hudson, a San Luis Obispo local who said that she heard Paul Flores admit to killing Smart in the summer of 1996.

Hudson testified on Sep. 8 when she said that she heard Paul Flores say that he buried Smart “under his ramp in Huasna” outside of the presence of anyone except herself and a man nicknamed “Red.”

Hudson also said that she believes she went to the property where Paul Flores said he buried Smart about two weeks after he made his original statement to her.

On Tuesday, Cole said that the Sheriff’s Department was not able to associate that property with Paul Flores, casting doubt on a crucial piece of Hudson’s testimony.

He also said that he was never able to find or contact “Red.”

Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, motioned for a mistrial on Tuesday based on “prosecutorial misconduct” after prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle asked Cole if Hudson ever told him that she was scared the Flores family may come after her if she came forward with her information.

Sanger argued that the question was “prejudicial” and that it may instill bias in the jury, but Judge Jenifer O'Keefe denied the motion.

After Cole left the stand, both defense attorneys rested their case on behalf of Paul and Ruben Flores.

The trial of Paul and Ruben Flores is taking place at the Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas.
Wikimedia Commons
The trial of Paul and Ruben Flores is taking place at the Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas.

Peuvrelle brought out his last witness on Thursday: Angela Butler, a forensic DNA analyst, who testified last week about key forensic evidence on behalf of the prosecution.

Earlier in the trial, Butler testified about soil samples retrieved from under Ruben Flores’ deck by the Sheriff’s Department.

She said she tested the samples using a HemDirect test, which detects the hemoglobin present in human blood. Some of the samples tested positive for blood, while others tested negative.

On Thursday, Butler said that she did not think these results were unusual, and added that she was “not surprised by those results at all.”

Sanger noted that Butler tested “substantially more negatives than positives” in the samples.

Butler then explained that giving the samples an overall weight of being negative would be improper forensic analysis, and maintained that “any line is considered a positive result.”

The presentation of evidence for the trial concluded after Butler's testimony.

Closing statements are set to take place on Monday and Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. for Paul and Ruben Flores, respectively.

Jury deliberations will take place immediately after closing statements, and two separate verdicts will be reached for both parties after deliberations.

Paul Flores is charged with Smart’s murder and Ruben Flores is charged with accessory.

Nico Viñuela began as a news intern at KCBX, and then regularly hosted our weekend programs. He also substituted hosting Morning Edition, middays and All Things Considered. Nico graduated from Cal Poly with a BS in Journalism in December 2022. During his time at Cal Poly, he worked as a news anchor and Assistant News Director for the campus radio station, KCPR. He was embedded in Salinas, California covering the Kristin Smart murder trial for Mustang News and KCBX. Nico also did other occasional reporting for KCBX News. In 2023 he moved on to New York to work for Dateline at NBC Universal.
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