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Kristin Smart trial: both juries now deliberating after closing statements wrapped up for both defendants

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.

The two separate juries in the Kristin Smart murder trial are on break from deliberations through Wednesday, meaning verdicts for Paul and Ruben Flores could come as early as Thursday.

The two men are accused of the murder and accessory to murder, respectively, of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart in 1996.

Court proceedings last week began with prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle giving his closing statement to Paul Flores’ jury on Monday.

The majority of Peuvrelle’s statement consisted of telling the jury about all of the evidence that they have heard throughout the case — and urging them to find the defendant guilty of murder.

Peuvrelle emphasized the prosecution’s theory that Paul Flores was “hunting” Smart and “targeting” her for the weeks leading up to her disappearance.

In reference to testimony from witnesses who said that Paul Flores raped them in 2008 and 2011, Peuvrelle also told the jury that they “can conclude that Paul Flores was disposed or inclined to commit sexual offenses, and based on that decision, also conclude that Paul Flores was likely to commit and did commit rape or attempted rape.”

Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, gave the first part of his closing statement on Monday, which he finished on Tuesday.

Sanger went through the prosecution’s case and told the jury there was “no evidence” that Paul Flores raped or murdered Kristin Smart.

He also said that both defendants have been targeted for decades as a result of negative media attention from the case. The defense has said this multiple times throughout the trial, and, on Wednesday, Sanger emphasized that many witnesses who have testified could have been influenced by the media, as well.

Sanger's closing statement lasted more than five hours.

Peuvrelle gave a rebuttal statement after Sanger's closing on Tuesday, giving the prosecution one last chance to address the jury directly. He began by addressing one of the first points that Sanger presented to the jury during his closing statement on Monday: that the prosecution had presented the jury with “conspiracy theories.”

Peuvrelle said that more than fifty witnesses would have had to be involved in a mass conspiracy to convict Paul Flores if that were true, calling the suggestion “ridiculous.”

He ended by reminding the jury of all the evidence they have heard throughout the trial.

“If that's not enough, then what you seek is perfection — which does not exist,” he said.

Lauren Walike
Cal Poly's Santa Lucia Hall is where Paul Flores lived during his freshman year at the university.

On Wednesday, Peuvrelle and Ruben Flores’ attorney, Harold Mesick, gave their closing statements to Ruben Flores’ jury.

Peuvrelle gave a similar closing statement that he gave to Paul Flores’ jury, emphasizing Ruben Flores’ role in the prosecution’s theory that he helped his son, Paul Flores, hide and bury Smart’s body.

During his closing statement, Mesick told the jury that the prosecution’s theory “requires you to use your imagination.”

He referred to all the efforts put forth by law enforcement to get a confession from Paul Flores and to find Smart's body, saying that the attempts yielded “nothing.”

Mesick told the jury that they had to “use their imagination” to find his client guilty, emphasizing the lack of “physical evidence” in the case.

He ended his closing statement by telling the jury that they had “more than reasonable doubt” to yield a not guilty verdict for Ruben Flores.

During his rebuttal statement to Mesick, Peuvrelle said that Mesick telling the jury that they would have to “use their imagination” to find Ruben Flores guilty of accessory was “absurd.”

He offered rebuttals to Mesick's points and ended by telling Ruben Flores’ jury the same thing he told Paul Flores’ jury the day prior: that if the evidence presented by the prosecution was not enough to convince them, then they are seeking an unattainable level of perfection in the prosecution’s case.

Both juries are now deliberating. A verdict was not reached on Thursday or Friday, and court is dark Monday through Wednesday.

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.