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UPDATE: Paul and Ruben Flores formally pleaded not guilty to charges in connection to the disappearance of Kristin Smart.
On Monday, April 19, the father and son virtually appeared in court for their arraignment, where their respective attorneys entered their pleas.
In addition, Ruben's attorney argued in favor of the 80 year old's bond release. However, the judge postponed his decision until Ruben's next court appearance on Wednesday, April 23.
Paul Flores has been charged with first-degree murder in connection to the 1996 disappearance of college student Kristin Smart.
On Wednesday, April 14, San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow said in a press conference that they've charged Paul with first-degree murder. Dow further alleges that Paul killed Smart during a sexual assault or attempted sexual assault in his dorm room at California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo on the night of her disappearance.
Additionally, Dow confirmed Flores' father, Ruben, has been charged with being an accessory to Smart's murder, as he is accused of helping his son dispose of the college student's remains.
Dow was not able to disclose what new evidence they have found to support their case, but confirmed, "Significant new information has come in to the sheriff's office that we reviewed over the past two years, and some very important information just a month ago."
He also stated that their team of investigators have a lead on the whereabouts of Smart's remains, but offered limited details because they "don't want to jeopardize the fair process going forward."
The District Attorney acknowledged it's "obviously complicated and difficult" to pursue a murder conviction when no body has been found, yet voiced optimism. He stated, "They're complicated and difficult, but we don't make a decision to file unless we think we can prove a case."
Dow called on anyone with information on Paul to come forward, specifically, if they knew about "assaults or other acts" that the now 44 year old may have committed in the past. Those with information may call 805-549-7867 or go online at slo.tips.org.
Paul is being held without bail, while his father's bail was set at $250,000, though he remains in an Arroyo Grande, Calif. jail. They are both set to appear in court for their respective arraignments on Thursday, April 15.
E! News reached out to Paul and Ruben's respective attorneys, Robert Sanger and Harold Mesick, but they declined to comment.
On Tuesday, April 13, the Smart family issued a statement recognizing the "bittersweet" nature of the arrests 24 years after their daughter's disappearance. The statement read in part, "The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain. We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten."
"Without Kristin in our life, there will never be justice, but we will pray for peace. Unfortunately, the indifference and lack of resolve we experienced early on set the course for many years," the statement continued. "However, when Sheriff Parkinson took office in 2011, he made a promise that Kristin's disappearance would be one of his top priorities. We are here today because he has remained true to his word. We have kept the faith; never given up; and fully placed our trust and support with him and his team."
The Smart family additionally acknowledged the "exceptional skills, indefatigable work and unselfish dedication" of Chris Lambert, who created and produced the podcast In Your Own Backyard, which led officers to new evidence.
This story was originally published on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 at 1:48 p.m.