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Smart preliminary hearing: Judge denies subpoena demanding ‘Your Own Backyard’ podcaster testify, release notes and files

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. - The Paul Flores preliminary hearing continued on Wednesday with Chris Lambert's motion to reject a subpoena demanding the notes and files he used when creating his podcast "Your Own Backyard."

Paul Flores' lawyers served the subpoena on Aug. 10 arguing that Lambert may be called as a witness in the trial due to his interviews with several other witnesses during the making of his podcast.

Flores is accused of killing Cal Poly student Kristin Smart, while his father, Ruben Flores, is charged in helping cover up the alleged crime.

So far, Lambert has produced ten episodes of his podcast "Your Own Backyard" which is widely credited with renewing interest in the search for Kristin Smart, a Cal Poly student who suddenly went missing 25 years ago.

The subpoena demands access to Lambert's notes, raw interview recordings, emails and text messages, a move that lawyers said would expose the identities of dozens of anonymous sources, many of whom have accused Paul Flores of sexual misconduct.

During Wednesday's trial, Lambert's attorney Diana Palacios motioned to reject the subpoena saying he should not have to testify on the stand. She cited the California shield law for journalists as well as Lambert's First Amendment rights as protections against the demand.

Flores' defense attorney Robert Sanger argued Lambert should have to testify, accusing him of influencing witnesses. He said Lambert gave a specific witness information about the case such as when law enforcement gained possession of a white truck similar to one owned by the Flores family.

Sanger went on to say Lambert made a clear attempt to influence the testimony of someone who the prosecution had classified as a key witness which is considered a crime in the State of California.

Sanger also said Lambert was not a working member of the press and that he worked as a "cloak of a journalist" on his podcast, costing him the protections and privileges of a journalist.

The lawyer demanded that the defense be entitled to find out what is going on and to ask Lambert questions on the stand under oath.

Honorable Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen disagreed with Sanger's argument and granted Lambert's motion to quash the subpoena stating that Lambert was protected by both the California shield law and the First Amendment.

Lead SLO County Sheriff's investigator Detective Clint Cole took the stand and shared details about the transportation of soil evidence to a DNA laboratory.

Forensic Serologist Angela Butler then took the stand to describe the process of testing the soil for human blood and DNA.

Paul Flores is accused of killing Kristin Smart, who disappeared 25 years ago after an off-campus party. His father, Ruben Flores, is accused of helping his son conceal her body. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The preliminary hearing was originally expected to last at least three weeks but has gone long due to multiple delays. When the hearing finally concludes, the judge will rule if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Digital communication is limited during this preliminary hearing. We will continue to bring you updates on-air and online throughout the process.

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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