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Defense questions detective about other men in Kristin Smart investigation

Flores Day 4.PNG
Posted at 8:22 AM, Aug 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 17:00:29-04

UPDATE - San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Detective Clint Cole took the stand again Monday on day 5 of the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, the two men charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.

Det. Cole was cross-examined by Paul's defense attorney, Robert Sanger, who focused on potential "other suspects" in the case.

Sanger brought up law enforcement interviews that were conducted with a man named Shahn Whitted who reportedly admitted to setting a pair of Kristin Smart's shoes on fire and leaving them on her doorstep with a mean note in February of 1996. According to those reports, he said he and Kristin made up after the incident.

In the last few days, Det. Cole says he may have found out who "Yanish" was but is not sure. That name has been brought up in court previously, in reference to reports that Kristin reported someone named "Yanish" for peeping into her window.

The defense also questioned Cole about a man named Ted Munley, who reportedly slept in Kristin's dorm room with her roommate, Crystal Calvin.

Another man by the name of Felipe Arias was also brought up. Det. Cole said Arias told investigators he last saw Kristin the night before she went missing because she stayed in his Trinity Hall dorm room and that they were "really good friends."

Sanger also questioned Det. Cole about a report that Kristin had gotten into an argument with someone at a concert at the San Luis Obispo Veterans Hall in early May and a Crime Stoppers tip about a man who was believed to be a pimp in San Luis Obispo and was later convicted of murder in San Diego.

Sanger then asked Det. Cole about Scott Peterson and his ties to Cal Poly. Cole testified that he believes Scott and Laci Peterson were at Cal Poly in May of 1996. Sanger refers to a report from Modesto Police Department Officer Brocchini who got a tip from someone who knew Peterson in 1995 and had a conversation in which Peterson talked about killing someone and that he would "tie a bag around the neck with duct tape" and throw the body into the sea. Det. Cole clarifies that the tip was reported, but that it came from a woman who "believed" that info.

Sanger brought up another report that says Modesto police talked to Peterson's brother, Mark, who told police Scott said to him, "boy, I hope they don't search in my pond" when referring to Kristin Smart. Sanger asks Cole what the sheriff's office did to look into Scott's statement. Cole testified that a sheriff's dive team searched two ponds related to Scott and his family and found no evidence and Peterson was ruled out after further vetting.

Sanger has mentioned Scott Peterson several times since the preliminary hearing started last week. On Thursday, Sanger said he was "making arrangements for Scott Peterson" but did not elaborate on what that meant.

Det. Cole said there has been no evidence that Peterson was at the same Crandall Way party that Kristin Smart and Paul Flores attended or that he was near the dorms on the night Kristin disappeared.

Much of the discussion in court Monday centered around the defense's motion to challenge the search warrant affidavits, also known as a Franks Hearing.

On re-direct, Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle brings up an interview with investigators on May 31, 1996, in which Paul Flores says he believes Kristin is dead when asked about what he thought could have happened to her. Det. Cole testified that Paul was the only person to say she was dead up to that point.

Det. Cole testified that several search warrant affidavits were based on Paul's inconsistent black eye stories, his interactions with Kristin at the party, cadaver dog alerts in his dorm room, and more. He said, "Speaking with [Kristin's] family saying she would not have disappeared played a big role as well." Statements made by Susan Flores to Paul regarding the "Your Own Backyard" podcast and KSBY's interview with Susan Flores were also cited.

Back on cross-examination, Sanger asked Det. Cole if the sheriff's office gave false information to podcaster Chris Lambert to try and provoke a conversation from the Flores family about the location of two trucks. Det. Cole said he remembers doing that.

Also during court on Monday, the defense objected to a prosecution witness by the name of Angie C., an ex-girlfriend of Paul's.

Judge Craig van Rooyen ruled that Angie C. can testify about her experience at Ruben Flores's White Court home and how she pointed detectives to the avocado grove where deputies say they later found "critical evidence," but she cannot testify to Paul Flores's behavior while they were dating.

Angie C. was not called to testify on Monday but could be at a later date.

Before the day ended, both the prosecution and defense moved to enter several pages of reports related to the Franks Hearing.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
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ORIGINAL STORY - Paul and Ruben Flores return to the courtroom Monday morning for week two of their preliminary hearing.

The father and son were arrested in April in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Kristin Smart.

Paul, 44, is charged with murder and is accused of killing Kristin during the commission of a rape or attempted rape. Ruben, 80, has been charged with accessory after the fact and is accused of helping conceal Kristin’s body, which has yet to be found.

The preliminary hearing began last Monday in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

Nearly a dozen people have been called to the stand so far including Kristin’s parents, former students who lived on campus or attended the party Kristin attended the night before she went missing, a Cal Poly police investigator and San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detective.

The preliminary hearing was originally expected to last about three weeks but is now expected to continue through the rest of the month.

Audio of the hearing along with any video of witnesses, people in the audience or items submitted as evidence are not allowed to be filmed.

Full recaps of what takes place Monday will be posted throughout the day on KSBY.com. Watch KSBY News at 5p for a live report.