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Orcutt podcaster served subpoena during day 6 of Flores preliminary

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Day six of the Paul and Ruben Flores preliminary hearing saw accusations of bias against the prosecutor assigned to the case and a surprise subpoena for one of the case's well-known media figures.

Tuesday's session began with Paul Flores' defense attorney Robert Sanger speaking about the use of cadaver dogs in testimony and announced he would bring in a dog handler witness on Aug. 30.

Judge Craig van Rooyen mentioned previous California Supreme Court rulings that included dog scent evidence.

Most of Monday’s hearing focused on questioning San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s detective and lead investigator Clint Cole. Cole took to the stand again Tuesday morning.

Cole, who has been on the case since Sept. 2017, has been on the stand multiple times since the preliminary hearing started last week.

Sanger began questioning by asking Cole why he was wearing a purple tie, noting he had worn that color tie every day during the six-day long hearing. Sanger asked if Cole was wearing the tie "in solidarity" for the Smart family.

Cole responded he was wearing purple ties "more for Kristin Smart," and that he was doing in without speaking to the family directly or Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle about it. Cole said he had read on the Justice For Kristin Smart Facebook page that was her favorite color.

Later in the morning, after the recess, Sanger brought up the tie color again, announcing he wanted to make a motion to have a separate hearing, noting that Peuvrelle was also wearing a purple tie and had been doing so throughout the hearing, noting video he had seen that aired on local news.

"This is absolutely inappropriate," Sanger said of the purple ties. "This kind of prejudice is what got us here."

Sanger said he couldn't believe "they would do that."

Sanger said the purple ties were inappropriate and said he felt strongly that the ties were evidence of not having an impartial prosecution.

During the Cole testimony, Ruben Flores' defense attorney Harold Mesick asked if he ever questioned any of the potential suspects Sanger has mentioned during the hearing. Cole said he felt there were no reasons to interview them because he did not consider them suspects.

Cole said when he received the case to begin his investigation in Sept. 2017, he began from scratch and independently developed Paul Flores as the sole suspect within a few months.

After Cole was dismissed, Jeromy Moon, was called to the stand. Moon was an Arroyo Grande High School student when Smart disappeared and was a friend of Paul Flores. The two were not close but spent time together, Moon said.

During questioning, Moon talked about about being with Flores on the weekend Smart disappeared. He testified that he saw Flores on Sunday, May 26, 1996 and noted Flores had black eyes. When he questioned Flores about it, Flores said he didn't know how he got them and said he "woke up with it."

Moon was asked extensively about a pickup basketball game he played in with Flores at Harloe Elementary School in Arroyo Grande where Flores had previously claimed was where he received the black eyes.

Peuvrelle asked if he got hit in the face during the game and Moon said he couldn't remember.

Moon was then asked if he followed the "Your Own Backyard" podcast. Moon said he does not listen to the podcast and said he tried to avoid watching coverage of the Smart case on television. Moon said he was asked by podcaster Chris Lambert to speak about his experienced with Flores, which he declined, saying he didn't want to be a part of the podcast. Lambert was in the courtroom covering the preliminary hearing as a member of the credentialed media.

At 11 a.m., witness Angie Doe was called to the stand. Doe was a former girlfriend of Paul Flores and said they dated and lived together in Lawndale, California for about two years.

She said she visited Arroyo Grande sometime between 2002 and 2004. She stayed the night at the home of Susan Flores on Branch Street in Arroyo Grande and visited the home of Ruben Flores, which is located nearby on 710 White Court.

During her visit to Ruben's home, Doe went out to the yard, which she said was unkempt. At one point, she walked towards a small grove of avocado trees, and said that both Paul and Ruben Flores "redirected" her away from the trees. She also said she was not aware of the Smart case during her relationship and found out about it later after seeing publicity about the case online.

Around 2005 or 2006, she said called a number associated with the "Son of Susan" website, a online site operated by Dennis Mahon, who independently investigated the case as as private citizen for several years. She also said he interviewed with Lambert in 2019.

The hearing took a break Tuesday afternoon and more testimony was set to take place after lunch.

During the lunch break, Lambert, whose popular podcast reignited some public interest in the case, was served with a subpoena by the defense.

Lambert has followed the case extensively over several episodes of his popular podcast and has been both visible and available to news outlets to discuss the podcast. He's been credited by law enforcement with helping bring the case back to the public eye. Thanks in part to that renewed interest, investigators received more tips that may have led to the arrest of Paul and Ruben Flores.

It's unclear if or when Lambert will be called to testify. The defense team had asked Van Rooyen to exclude Lambert from attending future hearings, but that request was denied.

Paul Flores is accused of killing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, who disappeared 25 years ago after an off campus party.

The preliminary hearing is in its second week and is expected to last at least three weeks. 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 day for continuous updates.

Playlist: The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

Playlist: The Disappearance of Kristin Smart

Article Topic Follows: Crime & Courts

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Dave Alley

Dave Alley is a reporter and anchor at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Dave, click here.


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