Friends and Family of College Student Kristin Smart Give Testimony About Her 1996 Disappearance
Prosecutors believe that Paul Flores, now 45, killed the then 19-year-old Kristin Smart, whose friends and mother recently gave testimony regarding the decades-long case.
In a recent hearing related to the 1996 disappearance of California student Kristin Smart, friends of the young woman and prosecutors say that Paul Flores killed her, according to the publication San Francisco Gate.
Flores, now 45, was the last to see Smart alive in 1996. The young woman was inebriated and her friends left her with Flores with the understanding that he would get her home safely, but she was never seen again.
According to the outlet, Smart’s mother alongside witnesses and friends of the late teen who had met Flores gave testimony.
When defense attorney Robert Sanger questioned Kristin’s mother, Denise Smart, and asked questions about a letter she sent Kristin shortly before her disappearance, the mother described the intention of the seemingly harsh letter as motivation for her daughter. Smart said the young women had been struggling to adjust to college and adult life, per the outlet.
According to the outlet, Sanger suggested the letter was a possible look into Kristin’s mental state, implying it was plausible that she ran away due to the pressures she felt.
Witnesses who met Flores during the weekend Smart went missing included Kendra Koed. Koed said that Flores tried to kiss her multiple times at the Memorial Day weekend party, and that she physically rejected Flores, pushing him to get him away from her, according to the outlet.
According to the outlet, Koed also testified that she noticed a “tall girl,” who she identified as Smart, struggling to walk, presumably due to intoxication. Koed said she saw Smart fall down at one point and then Flores standing over her afterwards. Koed claimed she warned Smart about Flores, asking if she needed a ride home, and Smart allegedly declined.
Another testimony came from Vanessa Shields, who lived a few doors down from Smart at the time, according to the outlet. Shields said she remembered watching Flores “leer” at Smart at several parties in 1996, describing him as “creepy” and “unsettling,” and said Smart did not reciprocate Flores’ interest.
"He was creepy. Socially awkward," Shields said.
"Always alone. We all have a type, and he wasn’t Kristin’s type."
Shields said she believes Flores killed Smart, according to the outlet.
Margarita Campos, a friend of Smart’s, said they initially attended a party together, but Campos turned in for the night earlier than Smart, per the outlet.
SF Gate reported that Cheryl Anderson-Manzer gave testimony that said she was walking back to the dorms with Smart and Flores, claiming Flores was grabbing Smart around the waist to keep her upright.
Anderson-Manzer said Flores asked for a kiss as they parted ways, and she told him no. She then headed home, according to the outlet.
According to SF Gate, Campos and Anderson-Manzer both say their decisions to leave Smart haunt them to this day.
Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, 81, is accused of helping him cover up the crime by burying Smart's body under the family's Arroyo Grande home, according to the outlet.
Paul and Ruben Flores have pleaded not guilty to murder and accessory to murder, respectively. They are being tried simultaneously with separate juries, according to the outlet.
“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 in his opening argument.
"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.”
According to the outlet, case proceedings resume Monday morning and are expected to stretch into October.
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