SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- After a marathon month-and-a-half long preliminary hearing, judge Craig van Rooyen determined Paul Flores will stand trial for the murder of Kristin Smart.
It's a landmark day in the 25-year-old case, which has become one of the most well-known and talked about cases in San Luis Obispo County history.
The ruling came inside a packed San Luis Obispo County Superior Courtroom filled with several members of the Smart family as well as members of the public, the media and district attorney Dan Dow.
Dow applauded the decision on social media.
Judge Craig van Rooyen announced his decision within moments of taking the bench.
He stated the prosecution has shown there is enough evidence for a trial to decide if Paul Flores murdered Kristin Smart.
Van Rooyen stated his decision was based on a number of factors presented during the preliminary hearing, noting Flores was the last known person to see Smart alive. He also mentioned how Flores appeared to have lied to police investigators during interviews soon after she disappeared.
He also referenced how four independent cadaver dogs all alerted to human decomposition in his dorm room during a search in June 1996.
The judge also pointed out witness testimony indicates there was a burial site at the Arroyo Grande home of Ruben Flores, Paul's father. Evidence presented showed investigators found human blood and soil staining consistent with human decomposition at the site.
The oftentimes contentious preliminary hearing began on August 2 and ran more than seven weeks with stalls and cancellations throughout the process. Over the course of more than 20 days of testimony, nearly three dozen witnesses were questioned on the witness stand.
He's been accused of helping his son conceal Smart's body in an attempt to cover up the alleged crime.
Van Rooyen added since there is suspicion of a burial site on his property, Ruben Flores had knowledge of that and will also be held to charges.
Ruben Flores remains out on bail, while Paul Flores is still in custody without bail.
We will continue to follow this case throughout the trial.