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Human blood found in multiple soil samples taken from Flores home, forensic expert testifies

Judge rules 'Your Own Backyard' podcaster won't testify in Kristin Smart case
Day 19 Flores preliminary hearing morning 3.jpg
CHRIS LAMBERT.jpg
Posted at 9:16 AM, Sep 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-08 22:39:00-04

“Your Own Backyard” podcaster Chris Lambert won’t testify during the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores.

The decision was made in court Wednesday morning by San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen, who granted a motion to quash a subpoena that would have required Lambert to provide documents related to the Kristin Smart case.

Van Rooyen cited the Shield Law and First Amendment rights when announcing the ruling.

Both Paul and Ruben are charged in connection with Smart's death. She was a Cal Poly freshman when she disappeared after attending an off-campus party in 1996.

Paul is charged with Smart's murder and his father, Ruben, is charged as an accessory.

Kristin’s body has never been found, but she was declared legally dead in 2002.

Lambert’s 12-episode podcast delves into Kristin’s disappearance and includes interviews with multiple people, some of whom Lambert did not identify, and covers potential evidence in the case.

In court on Tuesday, two archaeologists were called to the stand to testify about a search done at Ruben's Arroyo Grande home on March 15 and 16 of this year.

They used ground-penetrating radar on 11 different spots on the property looking for human remains and said they identified four anomalies of interest where the soil showed a disturbance beneath the surface.

Following the ruling Wednesday, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Detective Clint Cole took the stand once again, telling the court that he transported some items of evidence from the March search at Ruben’s home to a lab.

Forensic serologist Angela Butler then took the stand, testifying that human blood was found in soil samples taken from Ruben's property on White Court.

She tested the soil samples at a serological lab in Richmond, California where she's a senior analyst and lab supervisor.

Butler testified that five soil samples taken during the March search tested positive for human blood, and another eight soil samples taken during an April search tested positive for human blood.

She explained that no DNA was detected in any of these samples.

She said there was either not enough there to detect or there may have been some but it may have degraded.

Butler also explained that the samples were damp and there's bacteria in the soil which could further explain why there was no human DNA detected.

She also swabbed a piece of plywood from a trailer on Ruben's property for DNA but said she did not find the DNA of Kristin Smart or Paul or Ruben Flores.

Under cross-examination, the defense questioned whether Butler was 100-percent certain there was human blood in the samples and she said yes.

In one of the samples, Butler said there were some small clumps of material which were dark-colored orange, brown, and slightly reddish fibers which she gave back to lead Detective Clint Cole.

Two more people testified during the afternoon portion of the hearing.

San Luis Obispo Police Patrol Lieutenant Robert Cudworth was working with Cal Poly police in 1996.

He testified that on May 28, 1996, he interviewed Paul Flores about what he said happened the night Kristin disappeared.

Cudworth said Paul did not have a black eye at the time, but that he did have scrapes on his knee and what appeared to be a black eye during another interview with Paul on May 31, 1996.

JT Camp, an investigator with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office, was also back on the stand. He talked about some of the items found in Kristin’s dorm room, including a credit card, Social Security card and checkbook with a Stockton address on it all belonging to her.

Camp says those items were brought to the DA’s Office in August of this year from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.

The hearing is expected to pick up again Thursday. After that, there will be a break until Sept. 20.