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Kristin Smart Case: Four witnesses in first day of preliminary hearing – Susan Flores won't testify

Pool photo by David Middlecamp | The Tribune
Paul Flores, left, appears in San Luis Obispo Superior Court at a preliminary hearing in the Kristin Smart case. Robert Sanger, right, is representing Flores in the preliminary hearing.

Today was the first day of the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores in the Kristin Smart case.

Kristin Smart was a Cal Poly student who disappeared May 25, 1996. Paul Flores is being charged with murder and is accused of raping or attempting to rape Kristin Smart before killing her. Ruben Flores, Paul Flores’s father, is being charged with accessory after the fact.

Four witnesses were called to testify today including Denise Smart, Kristin’s mother; Stan Smart, Kristin’s father; Eric Grasso and Kendra Koed – both attendees of the 135 Crandall Way party where Kristin was seen the night of her disappearance.

Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle called Denise Smart, Kristin Smart’s mother, as the first witness in the preliminary hearing.

Denise Smart spoke in San Luis Obispo Superior Court saying Kristin was a “gift” to the family.

After the lunch recess, the court discussed several motions including a motion filed by Susan Flores’ attorney, Jeffry Radding, to quash a subpoena for Susan Flores to testify in the case.

Radding said to Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen that Susan Flores would invoke the Fifth amendment, which is her right to not incriminate herself. Van Rooyen swore in Susan Flores and the judge ruled she could not be called to the stand to testify.

Peuvrelle then called Kristin Smart’s father, Stan Smart, to the stand and asked about his relationship with his daughter.

Stan Smart said his relationship with his daughter was “close, nurturing and wholesome.”

Stan Smart also said he was unsatisfied with how Cal Poly police handled the case.

“[Cal Poly campus police] didn’t seem to have the expertise in the field with somebody who’s disappeared,” Stan Smart said.

Under cross examination by the defense, Stan Smart told Harold Mesick, Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, that he had never talked to his daughter about boyfriends or modeling and called her wanting to go to Thailand for school a “pipe-dream.”

Stan Smart was excused and subject to recall.

Next, Eric Grasso, who attended the party at Crandall Way over Memorial Day weekend, 1996 was called to the stand.

Peuvrelle questioned Grasso about the party and asked about the defendant, Paul Flores’s behaviors. Grasso said Paul Flores was primarily observing other people – something similar to how he has seen Paul Flores behave before. Grasso was excused.

The last witness called to testify was Kendra Koed, another Crandall Way party attendee who attended Cuesta College at the time.

Koed was looking for someone with a piece of gum at the party and said Paul Flores kissed her without her permission after saying he had a piece of gum. Soemone yelled "get a room" and she said she felt "mortified," but still walked with Paul Flores to get gum from his car. He tried to kiss her a second time, but she said she pushed him off and walked away.

Koed said at one point during the party, "Roxy," who she now knows was Kristin Smart, fell down in the hallway with Paul Flores in her vicinity. Koed said she picked her up and walked outside. Koed testified that while the pair was talking, Kristin Smart could barely hold her head up and was unable to care for herself.

Later that night, when Koed was leaving the party, she saw Kristin Smart lying on the ground and offered to walk her home, but Kristin Smart said she was waiting for someone.

In the cross examination by Robert Sanger, Paul Flores’ defense attorney, Koed confirmed that she was interviewed by Chris Lambert, podcast creator of Your Own Backyard that explores the Kristin Smart case. Koed also said she contacted Cal Poly Police in 1996, but she said people at the department “didn’t want to listen.”

Koed was later interviewed by law enforcement in 2014.

The hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores is expected to last at least 12 days.

At the end of the hearing Judge Craig van Rooyen will rule whether prosecutors established probable cause to continue the case in a trial.

The preliminary hearing is expected to continue tomorrow, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m.

Lauren Walike joined KCBX as its news manager in February 2021. In addition to her KCBX work, Lauren also serves as news director for KCPR-FM, Cal Poly’s student-run radio station, and digital director of Mustang Media Group, Cal Poly’s student-run news organization. She will graduate from Cal Poly’s Honors Program in June 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in journalism with minors in Integrated Marketing Communications and Media Arts, Society and Technology.
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