In a press briefing April 14, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow announced formal first-degree murder charges against Paul Flores in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.
Dow said his office believes Paul Flores killed Smart while attempting or committing rape, but he cannot be charged for rape because the statute of limitations has expired.
The DA also announced that Paul’s father, Ruben Flores, is charged with accessory to murder after the fact.
“The allegation against Ruben is that he helped to conceal Kristin’s body after the murder was committed,” Dow said.
Dow said his office has carefully reviewed the case and concluded, independently of the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office, that they have enough evidence to prosecute both men.
“Significant new information has come into the sheriff's office that we’ve reviewed over the last two years, and some very important information just a month ago,” Dow said. “We’ve got physical evidence. We have witness statements -- things that brought us to the point where we believe we can go forward and prosecute Mr. Flores for the murder of Kristin Smart.”
Dow said his office has evidence that leads them to believe they know where Smart’s body was initially buried, but they have not yet recovered her remains.
“Today we mark the very first move to bring justice to Kristin Smart, her family and to the entire community of San Luis Obispo County.”
Dow said the District Attorney’s Office is requesting information from the public as the investigation continues.
“We are seeking the public’s assistance in providing any information about this case or information on other potential crimes believed to have been perpetrated by Paul Ruben Flores, including assaults or other acts.”
Dow said Paul Flores frequented bars in the San Pedro area, where he has lived since 2005. The DA’s office believes Flores has committed other sexual crimes there against people who have not yet been identified.
Dow announced that Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle will be the lead prosecutor in the case.
Peuvrelle said his team will likely ask for an increase in the bail amount for Ruben Flores. It is currently set at $250,000.
When asked during the briefing whether he would accept a plea deal for information leading to the recovery of Smart’s remains, Dow said it was too early to comment. But he said his office welcomes the discussion with Paul and Ruben Flores’ legal council.
Dow said he is confident in the potential for a fair trial in San Luis Obispo County despite the high-profile nature of the case. But he said it will be up to a judge to determine whether the trial is moved.
Dow said arraignments are scheduled for both men April 15, however he said he does not yet know the timeline for hearings and possible trials.
The District Attorney's Office is asking anyone with information about this case or other possible crimes involving Paul Flores to call the San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at (805) 549-7867 or visit this website.