Paul Flores, 45, was found guilty of first-degree murder for killing Kristin Smart in 1996. A second jury found his father, Ruben Flores, 81, not guilty of accessory after the fact.
The two men had their cases heard at the same time, but they were tried by separate juries. The jury in Ruben’s case reached a decision on Monday (October 17), but the decision was held until jurors in Paul’s trial reached a verdict.
Prosecutors said that Paul killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room at California Polytechnic State University. He then enlisted the help of his father to bury the body in his backyard. Years later, Ruben was accused of digging up the remains and moving them.
Investigators never found Smart’s body and declared her legally dead in 2002.
Flores was the last person to be seen with Smart before she disappeared and was always considered a suspect in her disappearance. However, despite dozens of searches over the years, investigators never arrested him.
That changed in 2021 after the case was reopened. Investigators conducted a search of a home owned by Ruben and discovered evidence that the soil underneath his deck had been dug up. They also found human blood, though it was too old for them to get a DNA sample.
They were both arrested on April 13, 2021.
The defense argued that there was no evidence that a murder was committed.
“There is no evidence of a murder, so that’s really the end of it,” defense attorney Robert Sanger told the jury during his closing argument.
“This case was not prosecuted all these years because there was no evidence, and there’s still no evidence,” he added.
Paul faces a sentence of 25 years to life behind bars and will be sentenced in December.