NewsCovering California

Actions

Sheriff's detective, retired police investigator testify during hearing for Paul, Ruben Flores

Paul Flores Day 2.PNG
Posted at 8:22 AM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-05 20:51:39-04

Paul and Ruben Flores were back in court Wednesday for day three of their preliminary hearing. The two men are charged in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.

Late in the day, some court documents related to the case were unsealed.

Those documents show that Paul Flores's attorney, Robert Sanger, filed a motion to quash, suppress and traverse, asking for evidence in dozens of searches to be thrown out, saying there was not sufficient probable cause.

It's also known as a "Franks motion" when the defense challenges the truth of information used to support search warrants and requests a hearing to discuss their validity.

Sanger is challenging at least 35 search warrants issued over 22 years, arguing they violated Paul's expectation of privacy and were served on basis of "speculation, hunch, innuendo, exaggeration, omission and outright misrepresentation"

In response, the prosecution says if the motions were filed on time, they would need time to address them after the preliminary hearing due to "extraordinarily broad reach of the defendant's motion, the number of search warrants in question, the large number of exhibits, and the general lack of specificity."

Sanger also alleges there are eight warrantless searches, one of those being Paul's former #128 dorm room in Santa Lucia Hall.

Sanger claims Paul's privacy was invaded when investigators searched his former dorm room on June 29, 1996. The District Attorney's office said that search warrant's affidavit, signed July 15, says both Paul and his roommate had vacated the dorm as of at least June 10, 1996, because the quarter had ended and they were required to leave.

The search warrants themselves still remain sealed.

Also on Wednesday, witness testimony included some of the investigators in the case.

Detective Clint Cole

The first person to take the stand was San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole. His testimony was continued from Tuesday and centered around a booking photo of Paul Flores that showed him with a black right eye.

Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle submitted an arrest report into evidence from May 27, 1996, when Paul Flores was arrested by Arroyo Grande police for driving on a suspended license.

Peuvrelle then tried to submit a corresponding booking photo of Paul, reportedly from when he was booked and released on an outstanding warrant, but Paul’s attorney objected, saying there was a lack of foundation due to a disrupted chain of custody of the original booking photo.

Judge Craig van Rooyen sustained the objection for the time being, saying the prosecution needed to have proof that the original booking photo, showing Flores with a black eye, was fair and accurate.

The ninth person was then called to the stand.

Lawrence Kennedy

Retired Cal Poly police investigator Lawrence Kennedy took the stand after Cole.

Serving as an investigator from 1985-2003, he reportedly investigated Kristin Smart’s missing person report the Monday and Tuesday after she went missing over Memorial Day weekend in 1996.

He testified that he interviewed Javier Carrillo, who lived in the same dorm as Paul Flores at that time.

According to Kennedy, Carrillo told him that Paul said Kristin was “flirting” with him at the party on Crandall Way.

He went on to testify that Carrillo said Paul told him he walked Kristin back to the dorms before leaving her and going back to his own dorm.

Kennedy says Carrillo told him that the Tuesday after Memorial Day, he noticed Paul had a black eye at dinner and stated Paul told him he got it from playing basketball.

When asked about Kristin’s current whereabouts, Kennedy testified that Carrillo said Paul told him "she's home with my parents.”

Kennedy says he spoke with Paul at his dorm on May 28, 1996, and described him as being “nervous."

Kennedy says "he wasn't shaking but he was wearing a T-shirt and his heart or his breathing was moving his shirt" and that he had discoloration to his right eye.

Peuvrelle showed Kennedy the booking photo of Paul that was brought up earlier in court. Kennedy confirmed it was how Paul looked the day he spoke to him. It was then submitted as evidence.

Kennedy then went on to give more details about his conversation with Paul and what he says took place.

Kennedy testified that Paul says he walked Kristin up the hill after the party and left her near the driveway to the Sequoia red brick dorm.

When asked, Paul reportedly tells Kennedy that he never touched Kristin intimately or kissed her but did give her two hugs because Kristin kept saying she was freezing, according to Kennedy, who says he told Paul he might need to speak with him again. Paul reportedly said that was fine.

Two days later, Kennedy called Paul in for a voluntary interview, which was recorded and played in court Wednesday.

During the approximately 45-minute interview, which was played in court, Paul refers to Kristin as “Roxy,” describing her as being “flirtatious.” He said he didn’t remember what the two of them talked about during the walk from the party but says he had too much to drink.

Kennedy then asks Paul about whether he has any nicknames, to which Paul says sometimes people call him “Pauly Short.” When asked whether he’s heard people call him “Chester the Molester,” Paul said he hasn’t.

“This is as serious as it can get, we have a missing woman and we haven't had any sightings of her,” Kennedy can be heard saying to Paul during the recorded interview while reminding Paul to tell the truth.

Kennedy told Paul that multiple men had described Kristin as being “promiscuous,” which he says is consistent with what Paul had told him, but Kennedy then says it could be weird that a guy with a nickname of “Chester the Molester” was walking a “promiscuous girl” home. Paul replied, saying that “nothing went on.”

Paul then tells Kennedy he was back at his dorm room around 3 a.m. and thought he saw someone in the hallway around 5 a.m.

Kennedy told Paul he would need to get that person’s name for an alibi.

Paul also said he had two beers while in his dorm room and another on his walk to his sister’s house off-campus when he passed by the party that Friday night and decided to go. He couldn’t recall how he ended up with Kristin and two others later that night.

The recorded interview ends with Kennedy asking Paul if he would be willing to take a polygraph test. Paul replies, “yes” and says he will get back to police about a potential alibi and what program he was watching the night Kristin went missing.

During cross-examination, Sanger asked Kennedy how he was dressed and if his police badge was displayed when he went to speak with Paul on May 28. Kennedy described his clothing as a sport coat and dress pants and says his badge wasn’t showing but adds that he likely mentioned his title to Paul.

Kennedy testified that he did not observe blood in Paul’s dorm room or on the walls during that first visit and adds that Paul told him he was nervous that day because he thought he was going to be arrested on an outstanding warrant.

He says Paul was cooperative even when police tried using techniques to get an admission from him.

Kennedy tells Sanger he had never dealt with any substantial missing person or murder cases.

Court then adjourned for an afternoon break.

Continuing with cross-examination, Sanger asked Kennedy about other potential persons of interest in the case, including a former sheriff's community officer who told Kennedy he saw Kristin at a party the Thursday before she went missing and several years later was charged with sex crimes, and a man who Sanger says was reported for peeping into Kristin's window. Kennedy answers that the officer was not considered a suspect and he was not aware of the alleged peeper.

Sanger has also asked multiple witnesses if Scott Peterson was at the Crandall Way party, but no witnesses have been able to place him there and no evidence has been presented.

The attorneys and judge had a 20 minute closed chambers discussion about the cross-examination of Det. Kennedy regarding a statement he got from a person named Alyssa who was a friend of Kristin's in Hawaii. Alyssa described Kristin as "carefree, outgoing, spontaneous and boy-crazy," saying she would disappear with men for hours.

According to Alyssa's statement to Det. Kennedy, Kristin once flew to meet a boy on another island, spent money on a hotel room and $150 on a gold ring for him. Kristin was "capable of hiding money and leaving on her own," Alyssa reportedly said.

Judge van Rooyen went on the record after the cross-examination to clarify what happened in chambers. Van Rooyen said he addressed the People's objection to relevance and overruled it on the basis that the defense would limit the scope of the questions.

The prosecution found the original notes taken by Investigator Kennedy during the early days of the case which had not yet been discovered. They will be submitted to evidence and Kennedy will take the stand again Thursday morning.

The court is also preparing for the preliminary hearing to last through the month of August.
___

ORIGINAL STORY: The preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores heads into Day 3 Wednesday.

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

Paul, 44, is charged with murder and is being held without bail in San Luis Obispo County Jail.

Ruben, 80, is charged with accessory after the fact and is currently out on bail.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Multiple people have already been called to testify including Kristin’s parents, Stan and Denise Smart, and former students who knew Kristin or attended the party she was at the night she went missing.

For full recaps on the first two days in court, click here and here.

The hearing is expected to last about three weeks.

Due to video and audio restrictions put in place by the judge, the hearing is not being live streamed.

Before court adjourned for the day on Tuesday, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole was called to the stand to discuss a booking photo.

It’s expected he will continue testifying when court resumes Wednesday at 9 a.m.

This story will be updated as new information from court becomes available throughout the day.

*This story has been updated to clarify that Javier Carrillo lived in the same dorm as Paul Flores and was not his roommate as was first reported in court during Wednesday's hearing and then later corrected.