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Both sets of juries now deliberating in Kristin Smart murder trial

Ruben_Peurvelle Closing
Posted at 5:22 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-05 20:22:34-04

Both sets of juries are now deliberating in the Kristin Smart murder trial.

The jury for Paul Flores, who is on trial for the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart, began deliberating late Tuesday afternoon.

Closing arguments for Ruben Flores’ case wrapped up Wednesday with jurors sent to begin their deliberations just before 1:45 p.m.

They’re tasked with sifting through months of evidence presented during the trial and determining whether they believe Paul killed the Cal Poly freshman and his father helped him hide her body.

San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle started out by thanking the jurors Wednesday morning for their time but then jumped right into laying out the groundwork for how and why he claims Ruben helped his son get rid of Kristin’s body.

Ruben_Peurvelle Closing
SLO County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle presents closing arguments in the case against Ruben Flores.

Peuvrelle asked jurors for accountability and told them that while Ruben is older now, they can’t have sympathy for someone just because of their age.

Peuvrelle referred back to a phrase used in his closing arguments for Paul by telling jurors, "Justice delayed doesn't have to be justice denied."

The prosecutor described the Smart family’s pain while searching for hundreds and hundreds of hours for Kristin.

Peuvrelle continued by saying that for over 25 years, Ruben continued to hide the body and Paul continued to rape women.

"Hundreds of volunteers searched everywhere but the defendants didn't lift a finger," Peuvrelle told the court while saying Paul and Ruben lifted their hands to bury a hole.

Peuvrelle then recapped the night in May 1996 that Kristin disappeared, going over the timeline of the Crandall Way party.

He argued that Paul was "hunting" for Kristin. “He stayed and waited, he was laser-focused on Kristin," Peuvrelle said.

He then went over what he referred to as the hard walk back to the dorms and the degree of intoxication Kristin reportedly showed.

Ruben_Peurvelle Closing
SLO County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle presents various slides during closing arguments in Ruben Flores’ case.

Peuvrelle said phone records from Paul’s dorm showed he called his father the morning of Sunday, May 26, 1996. Peuvrelle told jurors Paul reached out to his father because he knew the one person who would help him in a situation like this would be his father as he would do anything for his son.

Peuvrelle then noted how based on witness accounts, Ruben appeared to be "doing everything he could to protect that deck," referring to the deck of Ruben’s Arroyo Grande home where excavations took place during searches as recent as last year.

Ruben_Mesick Closing
Ruben Flores listens as his defense attorney presents closing arguments in his case.

Peuvrelle reminded jurors of an encounter he says took place between Kristin's father, Stan Smart, and Ruben, who "wanted to get Stan Smart as far away from his backyard, as far away from the deck."

The prosecutor also brought up the time he says Ruben canceled a plumbing repair because it involved going under the deck.

Peuvrelle referred to the testimony of Paul's ex-girlfriend, who said both Paul and Ruben intercepted and directed her away from the deck when she previously visited the home.

Peuvrelle also talked about Ruben's so-called trophy room and pointed out how sheriff's detectives found dozens and dozens of items relating to Kristin Smart, including missing posters in Ruben's bedroom and a note Peuvrelle says was found in the defendant’s drawer that said “dig the yard.”

Peuvrelle then mentioned the soil samples collected from Ruben's home, along with the 6x4-foot anomaly reportedly found under the deck, blood staining and alerts from cadaver dogs that visited Ruben’s property.

Puevrelle then played an audio clip involving San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole and Ruben where Ruben can be heard saying, "They didn't commit no felonies, only me."

When previously on the stand, Cole testified that after that statement, Ruben then clarified that he meant he was the only one of the three who had been arrested.

Peuvrelle wrapped up his closing argument by reiterating the call for accountability.

Ruben’s attorney, Harold Mesick, then addressed the court.

Ruben_Mesick Closing
Harold Mesick, Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, gestures toward his client as he conducts his closing arguments.

Mesick questioned jurors, asking if they got all questions answered or simply more questions than answers.

"I think this case screams reasonable doubt," Mesick said, while adding there is a chance Kristin is alive and just missing.

Mesick said Paul did a good deed by helping Kristin get up when she fell at the party and by trying to keep her warm during the walk back to the dorms.

He insisted that his 81-year-old client has never been charged with a crime in his life.

In response to the prosecution's argument that Paul called his father for help to hide Kristin's body, Mesick called it a "ludicrous theory because there is no evidence to support the theory."

He said Kristin was unhappy at Cal Poly and called her a “free spirit.”

Ruben_Peurvelle Closing
A photo of Kristin Smart shown in court Oct. 5, 2022

Mesick said justice for Kristin won't be achieved by wrongfully convicting his client and his son and added that Ruben has "never dug a hole in his life."

Regarding the confrontation between Ruben and Stan all those years ago, Mesick said Ruben was just protecting himself, not a supposed gravesite. “Paul Flores and his dad didn't bury this woman,” Mesick said.

Mesick concluded his argument by asking the jury to come up with a verdict quickly to send a message to the state about how the evidence presented for a guilty verdict in this case is insufficient.

Paul and Ruben were arrested in April 2021 in connection with Kristin’s May 1996 disappearance from the Cal Poly campus.

Witnesses said he was the last person to be seen with her following an off-campus party.

For years, authorities only considered Paul a person of interest in the case and did not name him as a suspect until shortly before his arrest.

The prosecution told jurors this week that the evidence is clear and shows Kristin Smart is dead and was killed by Paul Flores; however, the defense argues that the case is straight forward and there is no evidence of a murder.

If or when verdicts are reached in both cases, they will be read back-to-back, with only jurors for Paul present when his verdict is announced and the same for the reading of Ruben’s verdict.

If convicted, Paul faces a sentence of 25 years to life. Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

For more on the Kristin Smart murder case and trial, click here.