The family of longtime missing California college student Kristin Smart is expected to testify on Thursday in the trial of the man accused of murdering her more than 26 years ago, and of his father who allegedly helped him hide Smart's body, according to reports.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune cited NBC Dateline in reporting that family members of Smart, the 19-year-old college freshman who disappeared after an off-campus frat party in May 1996, will be called to the stand on Thursday. A pair of Monterey County juries has been empaneled to oversee the separate cases involving Paul and Ruben Flores
Paul Flores, a now-45-year-old man, is charged with murder in connection with Smart's presumed death. Ruben, his 81-year-old father, allegedly helped his son bury Smart’s body, but later unearthed and relocated the remains.
Earlier on Thursday, Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, Harold Mesick, presented his opening statements on behalf of his client.
The court proceeding are not televised or streamed. News Channel 3-12 described how Mesick began to describe the ways in which the allegations against Ruben Flores – that he helped his son bury Smart’s body under the deck of his Arroyo Grande home – are improbable.
He also emphasized to the court that investigators have not uncovered any DNA evidence.
Prosecutors have said Flores killed Smart on May 25, 1996, when both were freshmen at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Paul was allegedly the last person seen with Smart, who was said to have been intoxicated after they and others had attended an off-campus frat party over the Memorial Day weekend.
The state has said Paul Flores killed Smart in his dorm room while he tried to rape her when they were both freshman. A massive search ensued, but Smart’s remains were never found.
"And while the entire community banded together to search for Kristin desperately, Paul and Ruben Flores did not join in," Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle told the jury. "You will hear Ruben Flores would tear down missing posters of Kristin — tore down her smiling, beautiful face — called her a ‘dirty slut,’ all while her corpse was decomposing underneath his deck."
Defense attorneys tried to poke holes in prosecutors’ statements in their own opening remarks on Monday. Paul Flores’ lawyer also attempted to discredit the use of cadaver dogs and the forensic evidence to which prosecutors have pointed.
The trial was "unexpectedly" delayed on Tuesday until Thursday, a court spokesperson said.
The trial is expected to take an estimated four months. Separate juries were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 Monterey County residents to oversee each case.