Kristin Smart: Paul Flores convicted in ‘96 disappearance, murder of California college student

SALINAS, Calif. — Paul Flores, the man long-suspected of killing college student Kristin Smart in 1996, was found guilty Tuesday of first-degree murder in Salinas, California.

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Ruben Flores, the defendant’s father who was charged as an accessory to the crime, was found not guilty, KEYT reported.

Smart, a 19-year-old California Polytechnic State University freshman, vanished May 25, 1996, while walking back to her dorm room following an off-campus party. She was last seen with Paul Flores, a classmate who offered to walk an inebriated Smart to her room.

Authorities alleged that Flores instead took Smart to his own dorm room and killed her during an attempted rape.

His sentencing is slated for Dec. 9, and he faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, KSBY reported.

Both Flores, now 45, and his 81-year-old father, Ruben Flores, who was accused of helping his son hide and dispose of Smart’s body, pleaded not guilty in the case.

According to NBC News, Smart’s body was never found, and she was declared legally dead in 2002.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong told KEYT that Tuesday’s verdict should provide the Smart family with long-awaited justice and closure.

“Kristin Smart’s disappearance is a tragic part of our Cal Poly community’s history, and our university has closely watched the case, hoping throughout for justice for Kristin and resolution for her family,” Armstrong said, adding, “Today’s guilty verdict is a welcome development in the pursuit of justice, and our university community hopes this brings some comfort and a measure of resolution to Kristin’s loved ones.”

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