Kristin Smart’s dad: Justice not over with Flores conviction

While the 26-year mystery of Kristin Smart’s disappearance ended Tuesday with Paul Flores’ conviction for murder, the young woman’s father says it doesn’t make up for his daughter’s absence.

“Without Kristin, there is neither joy nor victory in this judgment; we all know it didn’t have to be that way,” Stan Smart said Tuesday after the sentencing. “We will never hear Kristin’s endearing laugh or enjoy her hug. Your hopes and dreams will never come true; no form of justice can bring it back.”

A jury of nine women and three men found Flores, 45, guilty of first-degree murder in the death of the 19-year-old Cal Poly student, who went missing more than two decades ago but whose body was never found. A second jury acquitted Ruben Flores of allegations that the 81-year-old helped his son cover up the crime by hiding Smart’s body.

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said that as with the Smart family, the ruling does not close the case for his department.

“I’ve committed to them before, and I remain committed to it, even though Paul [Flores] was sentenced today, this case is not over,” Parkinson said Tuesday during a post-sentence briefing. “I remain committed to the fact that we’re not taking a deep breath, we’re not pushing this aside, we’re pursuing this until we bring Kristin home to family.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, Stan Smart said during the press conference that the case has been an “excruciatingly long journey with more downs than ups.”

Kristin Smart was 19 when she disappeared on May 25, 1996 after walking towards the dormitories after a house party with Flores, a fellow Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student.

Others at the Memorial Day weekend party said she was spotted having a drink just before midnight after hanging out with Flores. She then passed out in a meadow for two hours, behavior consistent with someone drugging her, prosecutors claimed.

As she and two other students began to walk, Flores emerged from the darkness to help her walk home, witnesses said. She was never seen again.

“After 26 years, with today’s divided sentences, we have learned that our quest for justice for Kristin will continue,” Stan Smart said. “We appreciate and are exceedingly grateful for the diligence of both jurors, and our confidence in the justice system has been renewed in knowing that the man who took Kristin’s life will no longer be at liberty, another family or another victim.” to abuse.”

During the trial, San Luis Obispo County Deputy Dist. atty Chris Peuvrelle alleged that Paul Flores raped or attempted to rape – and eventually killed – Smart before hiding her body under a patio at his father’s home in Arroyo Grande. A neighbor reported strange activity involving a trailer in Ruben Flores’ yard in 2020, Peuvrelle told jurors. That’s when the father and son were moving Smart’s remains as investigators made new inquiries into the property, he said.

Although Smart’s body was never recovered, prosecutors had another important piece of evidence during the trial. Two women claimed Flores raped them decades after Smart’s disappearance, supporting prosecutors’ theory that he sexually assaulted the student and then killed her.

However, Ruben Flores maintained his innocence and that of his son. Speaking outside the courthouse after the ankle monitor he had worn for 18 months was removed, the elder Flores said he felt bad Smart’s family would never find a solution. But he said the case is about feelings, not facts.

“We don’t know what happened to your daughter,” he told reporters on Tuesday.

He said he did not see his son before he was taken away. Paul Flores faces a life sentence of 25 years if he is convicted on December 9th. His attorney Robert Sanger declined to comment on Tuesday’s verdict.

The case was kept alive in no small part thanks to podcast host Chris Lambert, Stan Smart said. The true-crime series Your Own Backyard continued to spotlight his daughter’s disappearance. The podcast spawned a cottage industry of investigators who, according to sheriff and district attorney officials, encouraged witnesses who had not spoken to authorities to come forward.

It “brought not only new information, but also much-needed light and awareness in our darkest hours by sharing Kristin’s voice and story,” Smart said.

He also thanked Peuvrelle, Dist. atty Dan Dow and a host of investigators for “their tireless efforts to make Kristin a priority.”

“The tireless efforts of this team and so many others ultimately made this day possible,” he said.

Denise Smart wept quietly in the courtroom after hearing the guilty verdict at her daughter’s trial. Later in the day, she thanked “every person who has been the wind under our wings to get us through to this day.”

Stan Smart ended Tuesday’s press conference with a message to his daughter.

“The most important thing about our Kristin: Almost three decades ago, our lives were irreparably changed on the night of your disappearance. We hope this judgment will help provide not only answers, but also a peace and sense of closure that has been denied us for 26 years. Know that your spirit lives on in each of us every day. Not a single day goes by that you are not missed, remembered, loved and celebrated.” Kristin Smart’s dad: Justice not over with Flores conviction

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