More than two months after testimony began, prosecutors rested their case against a father and son accused in the disappearance and murder of college student Kristin Smart after a dramatic day in court.
Smart, 19, disappeared in May of 1996 after attending a college party with fellow California Polytechnic State University student Paul Flores, who now stands accused of killing her.
His father, Ruben Flores, 81, is facing charges that he acted as an accessory to the murder and helped hide Smart’s body, which has never been recovered.
After prosecutors wrapped up their case on Tuesday, Paul Flores’ defense attorney, Robert Sanger, and Ruben Flores’ attorney, Harold Mesick, both moved to dismiss the case, according to The Sacramento Bee.
Mesick argued — out of earshot of the jury — that prosecutors “don’t even know if Kristin Smart is dead,” while Sanger added that there had been “no evidence of a murder case, no evidence of a rape, and no evidence in this case” presented to the jury.
Photo: FBI; Getty Images
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle retorted, however, that there was “no doubt” that Smart was dead and pointed to interview tapes of Paul Flores talking with authorities in 1996. He said the videos showed Flores was “basically a pathological liar lying through his teeth.”
Ultimately Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe denied the motions to the dismiss the case.
Earlier in the day, Paul Flores' lawyer, Sanger, had also unsuccessfully asked the judge to declare a mistrial in the case during the testimony of Det. Clint Cole.
Cole had been testifying under direct examination in court about a white truck Flores had once owned, describing the vehicle as a Nissan two-wheel drive truck.
Peuvrelle asked Cole if he had been in the courtroom when prosecution witness Hudson told the jury that the truck Flores had driven in 1996 seemed to be a four-wheel drive vehicle. The question sparked an objection for Sanger, who accused Peuvrelle of prosecutorial misconduct for asking a leading question, KSBY reports.
He argued that Peuvrelle “knows better” and asked for a mistrial in the case, but the request was denied.
The trial, which began on July 18, has included dramatic testimony that brought some jurors to tears, including accounts from two women who claim Paul Flores, now 45, raped them, SF Gate reports. The women, referred to in court as Rhonda Doe and Sarah Doe, both provided similar testimony about meeting Flores while out drinking — in 2008 and 2011 respectively. They both testified that they can't remember large gaps of time during those evenings, suggesting they may have been drugged, and that they each regained consciousness to find Flores raping them.
Another witness, Jennifer Hudson, testified that Flores had confessed to killing Smart at a backyard skate ramp in 1996, just weeks after Smart disappeared after leaving an off-campus party near the Cal Poly campus. The Flores' lawyers subjected her to a harsh cross-examination.
Paul Flores had been walking Smart home from the party when she was last seen. Prosecutors have alleged that Paul Flores killed the intoxicated 19-year-old during an attempted rape in his dorm room, and that his father helped him dispose of the missing woman's body.
The defense is expected to begin calling their witnesses on Wednesday.