SAN LUIS OBISPO (CBS13) — More than two decades after Kristin Smart’s disappearance, the main suspect in the case is now set to go to trial.
After a nearly two-month-long preliminary hearing, a judge ordered Paul Flores to trial for the murder of the Stockton native. Prosecutors say he killed Smart during an attempted rape at Cal Poly in 1996.READ MORE: 'Big Heart, Big God, Captain America': Fallen Elk Grove Police Officer Ty Lenehan's Church Tribute
His father, Ruben Flores, will also go to trial as he’s accused of helping his son hide Smart’s body.
Sacramento attorney Alana Mathews told CBS13 the live preliminary hearing already demonstrated a strong case by revealing more than two dozen witnesses, including a friend of Smart’s who says Flores told her he “took care of Smart.”
Some other bombshells that came out in the hearing included evidence that Smart’s body was once buried under a deck shielded by lattice behind Ruben Flores’s home. Prosecutors say the body was moved but never located. Prosecutors also presented evidence that four cadaver dogs once stopped at Paul Flores’ dorm room and alerted authorities to the scent of death near his bed.
“So that was sort of a test run of the credibility and the strength of the theory and the story and the case that they’re putting together. And seeing that the judge had no problems finding that there was enough evidence to go forward with trial, they’re going to move forward with a pretty solid case,” said Mathews.READ MORE: Sunday's Show Info (1/23/22)
We also talked with local attorney Mike Wise following the judge’s decision to send the case to trial. Considering Smart’s body was never found, prosecutors will have to rely on circumstantial evidence.
“They have to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt and they have to convince all 12 jurors, so it’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be tough for them to accomplish,” said Wise.
“They’ve had a lot of time to sit and think and his father, that’s why he’s being charged as well. But I think that one thing about making up a lie is you’ve got to have another lie to cover another lie,” said Mathews.
The family of Kristin Smart released a statement on Thursday about the developments:MORE NEWS: Comic Art Clinic Aimed At Giving Girls Higher Pop Culture Profile
“Yesterday was a very good day and we want to take this opportunity to thank all of Kristin’s supporters in San Luis Obispo and beyond. So many people have played such important roles over the past 25 years, and we humbled by the amazing support and generosity we have received. We want to especially thank the District Attorney’s Office for their relentless efforts.
Our family has always known that this was going to be a long, difficult, and emotional journey. We are now one step closer to justice for Kristin. She – and all who have worked so hard toward this day – deserve nothing less.”