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UPDATE: Ruben Flores's bail lowered to $50k

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Posted at 1:15 PM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 22:53:24-04

UPDATE (2:42 p.m.) - A judge on Wednesday agreed to lower Ruben Flores’s bail from $250,000 to $50,000.

He is also ordered to obey all laws, stay within San Luis Obispo County, submit to electronic monitoring and surrender his passport.

Judge Craig van Rooyen's decision Wednesday afternoon came after reviewing Ruben’s statement of assets and additional information filed by the prosecutor.

Ruben’s attorney, Harold Mesick, told the judge, “My client poses no threat to the public and I don’t believe he should be punished because over 50 some years, 57 years of working, he’s been able to buy a house in Arroyo Grande and put aside a little bit of money in retirement.”

Mesick added that after paying fixed expenses every month, Ruben still needs to take money out of his retirement account and pay penalties on that.

Mesick was requesting Ruben be released on his own recognizance with whatever conditions the court felt were just without having to pay any bail, going on to say that if the court did impose financial bail, it would deprive him of hiring biologist and soil experts he says they need to help defend Ruben’s case.

Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle told the judge he submitted paperwork showing Flores could afford ample bail, and requested it remain at $250,000.

Peuvrelle argued that while the bail schedule for the accessory charge is less than the $250,000 originally set, the schedule does not differentiate between charges and he felt the amount for accessory to murder should not be the same as that for, as an example, robbery.

Judge van Rooyen said that “Setting bail under something more than he can afford is a detention under the law.”

Ruben must pay 10 percent of the $50,000 bail and provide the court with his passport, which Mesick says is expired, within 24 hours of release.

As of 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ruben remained in custody, jail logs showed.

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To watch the hearing live, click here. The case is being heard in Department 1.

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(1:15 p.m.) - Ruben Flores will be back before a judge Wednesday for further discussion about his bail amount.

Judge Craig van Rooyen indicated Monday he would likely lower the 80-year-old’s bail to a reasonable amount he can afford.

Flores has been behind bars at the San Luis Obispo County Jail since the morning of April 13 when he and his son, Paul, were arrested at their separate homes in connection with the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart.

Paul, 44, is charged with first-degree murder and was denied bail Monday.

Ruben is charged with being an accessory. The criminal complaint alleges he helped hide Kristin’s body. His bail is currently set at $250,000.

Both have pleaded not guilty.

Ruben’s attorney, Harold Mesick, on Monday described his client as someone with no criminal history, who has served in the Navy, lived in the county for decades and is involved with several local organizations.

Mesick called Ruben a “medical nightmare for the jail” due to having recently undergone triple bypass heart surgery. He also says his client has diabetes, colitis, and is prescribed 17 different medications.

A bail report obtained by The Tribune reportedly shows the prosecution’s reasoning for wanting Ruben to stay behind bars.

The report shows DDA Christopher Peuvrelle, who is prosecuting the case, provided a written statement that alleges Kristin was at one time buried in the Flores’s yard.

“The release of Ruben Flores would constitute an imminent risk to public safety,” the report reads. “Ruben Flores has repeatedly lied over the course of 24 years and has been uncooperative with law enforcement with the specific intent of aiding Paul Flores escape prosection. The excavation below his deck at 710 White Court showed damning evidence that a body had been buried in that location and then recently moved.”

The report suggests that Ruben be given no bail, citing if he were to be released, “it is virtual certainty that he would use his freedom to continue his attempts to help Paul Flores thwart the prosecution in this case and continue to hide her (Kristin’s) remains.”

Peuvrelle alleges in the documents that “it is reasonable to believe Ruben Flores currently knows the location of Kristin Smart’s remains.”

Mesick fired back in court Monday, saying an expert they brought in will show a different explanation for what was found during the excavation.

“Mesick said the site of what he termed prosecutors’ ‘most damning evidence’ was nothing more than disturbed soil that had been dumped in a hole after being removed from the site where a nearby foundation was laid,” according to the Associated Press.

Mesick added, “If we even call it evidence, it is so minimal as to shock the conscience.”

Judge van Rooyen said a reduced bail would likely be granted due to the chance that Ruben, who faces a maximum sentence of three years, could serve that sentence in full before the case even goes to trial.

The AP reported that the judge said, “We should not be punishing people before the case has been proved against them.”

A protective order for the case was issued by Judge van Rooyen last week. KSBY is told the bail reports are sealed documents and not eligible for release. It’s not known how The Tribune obtained them.

Ruben’s bail hearing is set for 2 p.m. Wednesday in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court.

To watch the hearing live, click here. The case is being heard in Department 1.