Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, accused of helping his son hide Smart’s body, was acquitted of being an accessory to the murder. Smart’s body has not been found.
“Without Kristen, there is no joy or happiness,” her father, Stan Smart, told reporters after the sentencing. “It’s been a painfully long journey, with ups and downs,” he said, before thanking prosecutors for the guilty verdict for young Flores. But he said Smarts’ “search for justice will continue” with senior Flores acquitted.
Paul Flores, 45, He faces 25 years to life in prison, prosecutors said. He is due to be sentenced in December. 9 In Monterey County Superior Court, California. His attorney, Robert Sanger, declined to comment, saying “this matter is still pending.”
Ruben Flores, 81, told reporters after the verdict on Tuesday that the evidence against him and his son was “too much fabricated” and that the ruling was based on “feelings rather than facts.” He expressed grief to Smarts, saying he believed they did not get answers about what happened to their daughter. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.
Authorities find ‘object of interest’ in dense campus area 20 years after Kristen Smart disappeared
After Smart’s disappearance, Paul Flores was initially designated as a person of interest by the authorities. He later contradicted his claims when he told investigators he got dark circles during a basketball game with friends, The Associated Press reported. He then changed his account, saying he hit his head while fixing his car.
Detectives interviewed a new witness in 2019, which led to a search warrant for Flores and his family, officials said. In March 2021, investigators searched the home of Ruben Flores in Arroyo Grande, Calif., where authorities said they found “an unidentified man with Kristen Smart.” Additional Evidence Regarding the Murder of Kristin Smart”.
Last April, authorities arrested the young Flores and his father, calling the former the “prime suspect.”
Prosecutors later told the jury that investigators found a “secret grave” under the deck of Ruben Flores’ home that “is believed to have previously held Christine’s body”. Archaeologists working for the police found a coffin-sized soil disturbance and the presence of human blood, although the blood had degraded to the point where DNA samples could not be taken, The Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors have previously said they believe Flores raped, or at least attempted to rape, Smart before killing her. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office could not be reached Tuesday night.
In a statement following Tuesday’s sentencing, Sheriff Ian Paxson thanked Smart’s family for their “patience and support” during the long investigation. “I swore to them years ago that we would not let Kristen’s memory be forgotten. Nor would we let her killer go unpunished…but there will be no real justice until Kristen is reunited with her family. This investigation will not be over until Ristin.”