On day 6 of the preliminary hearing in the Kristin Smart case, two former friends of Paul Flores took the stand and the defense raised issue with the purple ties that certain people were wearing in the courtroom.
Paul and his father, Ruben Flores, face charges in connection with Smart's 1996 disappearance from Cal Poly. A preliminary hearing allows the court to examine evidence and determine if there is enough evidence for a trial.
Discussion regarding the purple ties began Tuesday morning with the cross-examination of San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Detective Clint Cole.
Paul Flores’s attorney, Robert Sanger, asked Det. Clint Cole and San Luis Obispo County Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle why they have been wearing purple ties during court each day.
Peuvrelle objects and Judge Craig van Rooyen, who said he unknowingly was also wearing a purple tie, asks Sanger what the relevance is.
Sanger responds saying it’s because the People are trying to show solidarity with the Smart family.
Van Rooyen allows questioning to continue and Cole says the purple tie is more to show solidarity for Kristin Smart. He admitted that he saw a Facebook post that mentioned purple was Kristin’s favorite color. However, Cole says he does not recall having a conversation with Peuvrelle or the Smart family about this.
The defense tried to orally file a motion to dismiss the District Attorney's Office from the case citing bias because of the purple ties and asked for a hearing. However, the judge said he will consider it once the defense files a written motion. The prosecution asked the judge to deny the request.
Ruben Flores’s attorney, Harold Mesick, continued cross-examination of Det. Cole by asking about the nine reasons they focused on Paul Flores as a suspect.
Cole says he took over the case in September of 2017 and testified that it was not until the end of 2018 when he narrowed in on Paul as a suspect. He says he first signed the affidavit in late 2019 or 2020.
The eleventh witness was then called to the stand.
Following cross-examination of Det. Cole, Jeromy Moon was called to the stand.
Moon reportedly knew Paul Flores when Moon was a senior at Arroyo Grande High School.
Moon testified that he would sometimes hang out with Paul but he does not remember how often.
He said he does, however, recall hanging out with Paul the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in 1996 and remembers noticing Paul had a black eye. Moon says Paul told him, “that he woke up with it.”
Moon says the following day, they played basketball together at Harloe Elementary and testified that Paul did not get hit in the face during the game.
Peuvrelle asks Moon about other times he hung out with Paul and even tries to refresh his memory with other reports, but Moon says he does not recall.
During cross-examination, Moon told the court he played basketball pretty regularly, but not often with Paul.
Sanger brings up a recent meeting Moon had with the prosecution and a detective this past June and asks Moon whether he was shown his previous statements. Moon says he was.
Sanger also asks Moon if he told the DA's office that he would help with Kristin’s case in any way that he could. Moon responded by saying, “If I knew there was a wrongdoing for something that happened and I knew something, I had no problem coming forward.”
When asked about the “Your Own Backyard” podcast, Moon says he does not follow it but says podcaster Chris Lambert did approach him for an interview.
He says Lambert went over a timeline with him and showed him some police documents that were going to be released on an upcoming episode and adds that Lambert said he wanted to give Moon the opportunity to talk.
“I never wanted to be a part of the podcast,” Moon said in court. “I declined.”
The court then recessed for a short break.
Paul Flores's ex-girlfriend, Angie "Doe," was called to the stand next. They dated for two years around 2003. Her last name is being omitted by the court.
She testifies about a trip she took with Paul to visit his parents about six months into their relationship. She says they stayed at Paul's mother Susan's house on E. Branch St. for two nights and also visited Ruben's house on White Court.
Angie says they went out the back door of Ruben's house leading to a concrete slab and she was told by both Paul and Ruben to steer clear of the avocado trees near the back of the property. She says there were about 10 trees about 6 feet tall and that the yard was unkept, with a lot of bushes surrounding the property. She remembers there being about five golden retrievers hanging out under the deck at the time.
During cross-examination, Sanger asks Angie about her involvement in the podcast. She was interviewed by Lambert was featured one time. She said she first told someone about the home visit after she and Paul broke up in 2005.
Angie testified that she did not know about Kristin’s case while she was dating Paul.
She adds that she did not talk with anyone officially until the sheriff’s office in February of this year, although Angie says someone did reach out to her about the case in 2005.
Sanger asks her whether Paul mentioned anything about the avocado trees, to which Angie replied no.
Mesick asked Angie whether she told the DA’s office during an interview on August 8 that she expressed she was having some memory problems and she replied yes.
The court then took an afternoon break.
During the afternoon break, the defense served podcaster Chris Lambert with a subpoena to testify during the hearing, arguing he should be excluded from sitting in on the hearing since he could be called as a potential witness.
Peuvrelle tells the court there is no legitimate reason to exclude him and Judge van Rooyen says he is not going to exclude a member of the media due to him talking to some witnesses prior to the start of the hearing.
Rick Newfeld, a retired San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's detective, who worked for the department from 1976 to 2009, was called to the stand.
He was reportedly called out to process Paul Flores's dorm room on June 24, 1996, where he took photos and collected samples.
In court Wednesday, prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle asked Newfeld what actions he took to process room #128.
Newfeld said he used a tool called an alternative light source to look for trace evidence. He says he collected fibers from in front of the desk, along with a suspected semen stain on Paul's mattress and hairs on the bottom side of the mattress between the mattress and box spring.
In court, the former detective detailed how he would collect, mark and bag evidence.
On June 29, 1996, he says he was called back to the dorm after he was told cadaver dogs alerted to a corner of Paul's mattress. Newfeld said he then collected the mattress and took it back to sheriff's crime lab.
During cross-examination, Newfeld revealed he did not find fingerprints or blood stains in Paul's dorm, but did find suspected semen stains on both mattresses in the room. Newfeld said he was aware the room had been cleaned by Cal Poly after it was vacated and it would have been better to process the room for evidence prior to it being cleaned.
Paul's attorney, Robert Sanger, asked Newfeld if he ever tried to interview the cleaning crew or find out who cleaned the room and when and how many people were there. Newfeld said he did not.
Ruben's attorney, Harold Mesick, asked Newfeld if the dorm was taped off when he got there for the first time on June 24. Newfeld said he doesn't remember but did say the door was locked.
There was then back-and-forth discussion from cross-examination and re-direct about "best practices" of collecting and testing DNA evidence and if the same person collecting evidence should be the same one analyzing.
Newfeld said it is best practice but sometimes that is not always available, like, for example, when evidence is sent back to state labs.
Newfeld said some items collected from the dorm were sent to the Department of Justice crime lab in Goleta for testing; However, Newfeld said he never received the results.
He said DNA testing was fairly new in 1996 and that the lab wasn't capable of testing it at the time.
The last witness of the day was an expert cadaver dog handler who also surveyed Paul's dorm room. She explained her training and experience searching for human remains.
The 14th witness was also called to testify Wednesday afternoon.
Adela Morris has spent 35 years as a cadaver dog handler. In court, she provided a detailed background on search and rescue training and classes to identify human remains with dogs.
Morris says she has certified seven dogs in her time as a handler and done more than 500 searches for human remains, with about 150 of those being with a dog named Cholla.
Morris explains the training she went through with Cholla saying she is cadaver certified and water cadaver certified, meaning she can detect a body submerged underwater and even find people alive.
Peuvrelle then asks about June 29, 1996 when Morris was called out to Paul’s dorm.
Morris testified that the sheriff's office set up a large search that day and assigned smaller groups to different areas.
Morris said her first assignment was to search two reservoirs and a swine pond.
Around 9:45 a.m., she says she was called to search dorm room #128. In each of her reports, Morris noted the temperature as being in the upper 80s by that time, so as to track conditions for the dog.
Morris remembers there being other dog handlers and dogs there for the search.
Peuvrelle questions whether dog handlers discuss their finds with other dog handlers. Morris responds, saying they do not tell each other if a dog alerted, but only talk if they need to warn each other about hazards or conditions for the dog stating, "We feel it is more powerful if [the dogs] do it blindly and we have results."
Sanger objects to parts of Morris's testimony arguing there is not enough adequate foundation and requests a hearing for admissibility for the dog handler.
Judge van Rooyen cites a specific case law and says there will not be a hearing but will proceed with the testimony.
Wednesday morning’s testimony will resume with Morris on the stand.
ORIGINAL STORY - The preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores moves into day 6 Tuesday in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.
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.
On Tuesday, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole was cross-examined by Paul's defense attorney, Robert Sanger, who focused on potential "other suspects" in the case, including the possibility of Scott Peterson.
Cole ultimately said there has been no evidence that Peterson was at the same Crandall Way party that Kristin Smart and Paul Flores attended the night Kristin disappeared or that Peterson was near the dorms that night.
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 Tuesday will be posted throughout the day on KSBY.com. Watch KSBY News at 5p for a live report.