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Days following Kristin Smart disappearance subject of third day of preliminary hearing

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Paul and Ruben Flores returned to San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Wednesday morning for the third day of a preliminary hearing.

Day three saw testimony about the days and weeks following the disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart 25 years ago.

The son and father have pleaded not guilty to murder and accessory to murder after the fact in connection with Smart’s disappearance on Memorial Day weekend 1996.

Lawrence Kennedy, the former lead investigator for the Cal Poly Police Department was on the witness stand for the Wednesday morning session. The key witness spent most of the day testifying.

He testified that he interviewed Paul Flores at least twice after Smart went missing. Kennedy described Flores as visibly nervous during one particular interview.

Kennedy said a booking photo of Paul Flores taken at the time in connection to a different police case showed a deep bruise under his right eye. Flores told a friend he got the black eye playing basketball.

An audio tape of one of the interviews was played in court.

Flores said he and Kristin Smart were at the same off-campus party the night of her disappearance and both were intoxicated. Flores said he walked with Smart back to near her dormitory after the party, but says he then left her alone to make her own way back to her dorm room while he walked back to his dorm room in a separate building and fell asleep.

The former Cal Poly police investigator said he interviewed Paul Flores’ roommate about a month later. The roommate told the investigator that he and Flores talked about Smart’s disappearance. He asked Flores if he knew anything about it or if he knew where she was. Paul Flores jokingly told his roommate “she’s at home with my parents,” according to the Cal Poly police detectives record.

Kennedy testified that he also interviewed a woman in Hawaii who met Kristin Smart while attending a summer camp the year before her disappearance. She told the investigators that Smart would often go missing from the camp and not return until the following morning, and sometimes even later.

The woman described smart as "energetic," "spontaneous" and "boy-crazy."

Paul Flores' defense attorney Robert Sanger has suggested at times Smart may still be alive and went missing on her own accord.

Paul Flores is accused of killing Smart during an attempted rape in his Cal Poly dorm room back in May 1996. Investigators believe Ruben helped conceal Smart's body. Detectives have never found her remains.

Several people spoke at the preliminary hearing Tuesday, including a neighbor and people who saw Smart the night she vanished.

The preliminary hearing was expected to take three weeks but now may go beyond that initial timeline. At the end, a judge will rule if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Digital communication is limited during this preliminary hearing. Check back throughout the process for continuous updates.

Playlist: The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

Playlist: The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Keith Carls

Keith Carls is a reporter at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Keith, click here.

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