Kristin Smart trial: Murder suspect Paul Flores had black eye, was acting 'nervous' days later, classmate says

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Former California college students who knew longtime missing woman Kristin Smart or Paul Flores – the man accused of killing smart, and then hiding her body with his dad’s help – testified in court about their run-ins with the woman or her alleged killer in the days around her disappearance. 

Paul Flores is accused of killing Smart on May 25, 1996, while both were freshman at California Polytechnic State University’s San Luis Obispo campus. His father then allegedly helped him hide her body. 

The trial proceedings are not televised or live-streamed, pursuant to a judge’s ruling. A handful of journalists – including the person behind the “Your Own Backyard” (YOB) Podcast that is credited with renewing interest in the case – have been reporting from inside the courtroom amid the media limitations. 

There will be no trial proceedings on Friday. On Thursday, the juries heard more testimony from people who knew or encountered Smart and Paul Flores in the days around her disappearance. 

A Cal Poly student identified as “Mario,” who said he was a junior transfer student to the San Luis Obispo campus for the 1995-1996 school year, and used to play 8-ball pool with the younger Flores multiple times a week in the college’s Santa Lucia Hall, according to tweets from the YOB Podcast. 

KRISTIN SMART CALIFORNIA TRIAL: PAUL FLORES JOKED THAT MISSING WOMAN WAS ‘AT MY MOM’S HOUSE,’ ROOMMATE SAYS

Kristin Smart who disappeared in 1996 and Paul Flores, prime suspect in the disappearance, appearing in Superior Court in Torrance with his attorney in 2006.

Kristin Smart who disappeared in 1996 and Paul Flores, prime suspect in the disappearance, appearing in Superior Court in Torrance with his attorney in 2006.
(AP/Getty Images)

He and Flores played pool in the days after Memorial Day weekend 1996 – the last time Smart was seen, he recalled. Mario reportedly described how Flores appeared to have a black eye and wore a had that he pulled down “in a very unusual way, like he was trying to hide it.”

KRISTIN SMART TRIAL: CALIFORNIA JURIES HEAR HOW ‘CREEPY GUY’ PAUL FLORES FREQUENTED SMART’S DORM

When Mario asked Flores about the eye injury, Flores alleged responded that he had gone to a party where someone pushed him, according to the report

Paul Flores, on the left, was charged with murder. Ruben Flores, on the right, was charged with accessory after the fact. 

Paul Flores, on the left, was charged with murder. Ruben Flores, on the right, was charged with accessory after the fact. 
(Courtesy | San Luis Obispo County Jail.)

Mario reportedly described Flores at the time as being “kind of nervous, edgy.” But when asked on cross-examination, Mario also conceded that Flores was “generally a friendly guy.” 

KRISTIN SMART TRIAL: CALIFORNIA JURIES HEAR FROM CAL POLY STUDENT’S ROOMMATE ABOUT NIGHT OF DISAPPEARANCE

Paul Flores’ defense attorney, Robert Sanger, asked Mario questions about what he remembered about the black eye, such as where on his face and when the interaction with Flores happened. 

Mario said it was “under the eye,” not “in the eyelid” where Sanger suggested.

In this April 15, 2021, file photo defendants Paul Flores, top left, and his father, Ruben Flores, bottom right, appear via video conference during their arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in San Luis Obispo, Calif. 

In this April 15, 2021, file photo defendants Paul Flores, top left, and his father, Ruben Flores, bottom right, appear via video conference during their arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court in San Luis Obispo, Calif. 
(AP Photo/Nic Coury, File)

Sanger asked: “You can’t really remember when it occurred?” according to YOB Podcast tweets. 

Mario reportedly responded that “it was Wednesday or Thursday of that week.” 

KRISTIN SMART’S CALIFORNIA TRIAL: JURY HEARS FROM MISSING WOMAN’S PARENTS, BROTHER IN LONG-AWAITED MURDER CASE

Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, Harold Mesick, also questioned Mario about specific details, such as whether Flores “always wore a hat” when he played pool, according to the report. 

Paul Flores puts on a new N95 mask Aug. 3, 2021, at a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Kristin Smart disappeared during her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo more than 25 years ago.

Paul Flores puts on a new N95 mask Aug. 3, 2021, at a preliminary hearing in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Kristin Smart disappeared during her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo more than 25 years ago.
(David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, Pool,File)

“Not that I recall,” Mario said. 

Mesick asked: “You don’t recall he always wore hats? He was notorious for wearing hats?”

Mario said he did not recall that.

Next to the stand was a Cal Poly student named Felipe, who spoke about how Smart was a close friend who had stayed in his room once or twice. He reportedly said he last saw Smart on May 23, when she left a reggae CD, lip gloss and sandals in his room, according to the report. 

The juries also briefly heard from a District Attorney’s Office investigator who testified about how Ruben Flores’ address remained the same from 1994 through 2022, according to the podcast reporter. 

Paul Flores’ home address was listed on his license as being the same as Ruben Flores’ from 1993 through 2005, when his residence location changed to in Lawndale, and then San Pedro, according to the report. 

CALIFORNIA KRISTIN SMART TRIAL FOR PAUL FLORES AND DAD BEGINS 25+ YEARS AFTER COLLEGE STUDENT’S DISAPPEARANCE

The younger Flores is charged with murder in connection with Smart’s presumed death. His father, Ruben Flores, is charged with helping his son bury Smart’s remains. He allegedly later unearthed and relocated the remains. 

Ruben Flores, father of Paul Flores, sits in court Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Kristin Smart disappeared during her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo more than 25 years ago.

Ruben Flores, father of Paul Flores, sits in court Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Kristin Smart disappeared during her freshman year at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo more than 25 years ago.
(David Middlecamp/The Tribune (of San Luis Obispo) via AP, Pool,File)

Paul was allegedly the last person seen with Smart, 19, 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 freshmen. A massive search ensued.

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Separate juries were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 Monterey County residents to oversee each case separately, but simultaneously. The trial is expected to last four months.



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