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Judge denies motion to have SLO County DA disqualified from Smart preliminary hearing over tie color

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. – The judge assigned to the Kristin Smart preliminary hearing has dismissed a motion from the defense to have San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle disqualified from the case.

Attorney Robert Sanger, who is representing Paul Flores, filed the motion to have Peuvrelle disqualified over accusations of bias. Namely, a purple tie that Peuvrelle had worn in the early days of the preliminary hearing. Purple was Kristin Smart's favorite color, her family has said.

Accusations of bias were made by Sanger and the Flores defense team two weeks ago when the preliminary hearing first began.

On Wednesday, he accused Peuvrelle, along with lead San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's investigator Clint Cole, along with the witness coordinator as wearing "team colors," which displayed bias and prejudice against his client.

Sanger felt the clothing selection was an indication that Flores could not receive a fair trial.

In opposition to the motion, Deputy Attorney General Seth McCutcheon, who represented the State Attorney General's Office, said the clothing did not show prejudice or would influence a verdict.

He cited prior case law and pointed out this case was only in the preliminary state, and not jet in a jury trial setting.

After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Craig van Rooyen rejected the motion.

Van Rooyen said in his ruling that Sanger's argument did not meet the necessary legal criteria to remove the prosecution.

The preliminary hearing returned to court Wednesday after having the previous day off due to continued issues with the sharing of discovery evidence between the two legal teams.

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

The preliminary hearing was expected to last at least three weeks. At the end, the judge will rule if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial.

Court will be off for the next two days while Sanger attends to two other cases he is working on in Southern California.

The preliminary hearing will resume Monday, Aug. 30 at 9 a.m. in San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Dept. 5.

Unlike the past two weeks that have featured more delays and motion filings than witness examination, a full week of testimony is expected.

Monday will mark the fifth week of the preliminary hearing.

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

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Dave Alley

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