Paul Flores pleaded not guilty to the murder and attempted rape of 19-year-old Cal Poly student Kristin Smart Monday after being arrested and charged with the 1996 crimes last week. His father, Ruben Flores, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact to the crime.
Paul Flores was not granted bail, with Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen saying that his release could result in “great bodily harm” to the public. The elder Flores will be released on a bail that he can afford. That amount will be determined at a later hearing, along with conditions of release.
A lawyer for the Smart family did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone’s request for comment, nor did lawyers for the Flores family.
San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow announced charges against Paul Flores and his father Ruben in connection to Smart’s disappearance last week after the pair were arrested on April 13th in San Pedro, California, and Arroyo Grande, respectively; police also served a warrant to search the elder Flores’ house.
Paul Flores was officially named a suspect in Smart’s disappearance last month when the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office served a search warrant at Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande home to use cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) on the property, according to a release issued at the time. He was previously the only person of interest in the case.
In February 2020, Flores’ home, his parents’ home, and his sister’s home were also searched by police, who seized digital devices. In April 2020, police executed another search on Paul Flores’ property in San Pedro.
Smart, then 19, disappeared from Cal Poly campus in 1996 and was last seen with Paul Flores, a fellow student she had met at a party. Her body has yet to be found.
San Luis Obispo Sherriff Ian Parkinson has said that Chris Lambert’s podcast Your Own Backyard led to a new witness coming forward who helped moved the investigation forward. “What Chris did was take a local story and turn it into an international story,” he said. “It did produce some information that I believe was valuable.”