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Kristin Smart Case: Witness recounts last night she saw Smart alive

Pool photo by David Middlecamp | The Tribune
Paul Flores in San Luis Obispo Superior Court Aug. 3 for the second day of his preliminary hearing.

During the second day of the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, the prosecution called four witnesses to the stand including Steven Fleming, who was Kristin Smart’s friend and lived in Muir Hall which was the same dorm as Smart; Matthew Toomey, a Crandall Way party attendee, Cheryl Manzer, who was one of last people to see Smart alive; and Clinton Cole, a SLO County Sheriff's Office detective.

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.

Steven Fleming, Kristin Smart’s friend and a resident in Muir Hall where Kristin lived, was the first witness called to the stand today in San Luis Obispo Superior Court .

Fleming said he saw Paul Flores hanging around Muir Hall by himself on two instances. Fleming described Paul Flores’ as a “lurker” and “creepy.” Fleming said Paul would be around Kristin Smart on multiple occasions.

“He was like a puppy dog, kind of just there,” Fleming said.

In the spring, near the end of Fleming's basketball season, he saw Paul Flores in Kristin Smart's dorm room.

“This is the part where I felt like I failed her,” Fleming said. “What I know as a man today – she was nervous.”

Fleming said that after Kristin Smart went missing, he didn’t see Paul in Muir Hall.

In a cross-examination, Robert Sanger, representing Paul Flores, referenced a report by the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office last month where Fleming called Paul Flores “creepy” multiple times and said he was not 100% sure Paul Flores was who he saw in Smart’s dorm room on at least one occasion in 1996.

The defense continued to question Fleming about whether he was 100% sure it was Paul Flores he saw in Smart’s dorm room.

After Peuvrelle showed Fleming a copy of a police report, Fleming said he was 100% certain it was Paul Flores who he saw in Smart’s dorm room. Fleming said that the memories were coming back.

Harold Mesick, representing Ruben Flores, asked Fleming if he had asked Paul Flores to leave Smart’s room when he saw them. Fleming said he didn’t really stop, just walked by.

“At times I think she was a better friend to me, but like I said my ego at the time was huge,” Fleming said.

Fleming was excused and subject to recall.

The second witness called to the stand was Matthew Toomey, who attended the Crandall Way party and lived in the Sierra Madre dorms in 1996.

While he was leaving the party around midnight, Toomey said he and his roommate at the time, Ross Ketchum, saw Smart lying on the grass on Crandall Way.

Toomey said he was concerned because she seemed more inebriated than earlier at the party. The pair ended up going home after Smart said she didn’t want their help, according to Toomey.

During the cross examination, Toomey told Sanger that Smart had introduced herself as “Roxy” at the party.

The next witness called to the stand was Cheryl Manzer, formerly Anderson, and was also at the Crandall Way party.

Manzer said during the party Paul Flores put his arm around her, which she wasn’t happy about.

When Manzer was leaving the party, Tim Davis, another attendee, offered to walk her back to the Sierra Madre dorms where she lived. Manzer said at some point while leaving the house Davis met Smart and all three of them began walking to the dorms. Davis was helping Smart walk because Manzer said Smart was “stumbling,” “having trouble standing” and her “speech was impacted.”

Not long after the group started walking, Paul Flores joined, saying he was also walking back to the dorms. Manzer told Davis he could leave because he lived in the opposite direction the group was walking.

Once Davis left, Paul Flores helped Smart continue walking.

The group stopped twice on the way back to the dorms and both times Manzer said Paul Flores told her she could continue walking, but Manzar said she said no because she didn’t want to walk by herself.

When the group got to the corner of Perimeter Road and Grand Avenue, Paul Flores asked Manzer for a kiss, to which she refused. Paul Flores then asked for a hug, which she also declined and then walked

Manzer said she asked Paul Flores if he would get Smart back to her dorm room safely and he said yes, according to Manzer.

“I didn’t think anything bad would happen at the time,” Manzer said.

The last thing that Manzer said she saw was Paul Flores and Kristin Smart walking back towards the dorms.

The final witness called to the stand was Clinton Cole, a detective at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff''s Office and the lead detective in the Kristin Smart case.

The prosecution and defense discussed bringing four documents, including a booking photo, into evidence. Sanger objected to three of the four documents, including the photo, which the prosecution has not yet admitted into evidence. The court adjourned until tomorrow.

The preliminary hearing continues Aug. 4 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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