Paul Flores defense team files change of venue motion for Kristin Smart murder trial
SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY, Calif. – Paul Flores' defense team has filed a change of venue motion to move the Kristin Smart murder trial out of San Luis Obispo County.
Flores' team filed the motion on Wednesday, "on the grounds that there is reasonable likelihood that a fair and impartial trial" cannot be held in San Luis Obispo County, according to court documents obtained by News Channel 3-12.
The change of motion hearing will happen on March 30 and the trial is scheduled to begin late April, but that could be delayed if the change of venue motion is granted.
Flores is accused of killing Smart, who was a 19-year-old Cal Poly student at the time of her disappearance, in May 1996, and his father, Ruben Flores is charged as an accessory to the crime.
Paul Flores was the last person to see Smart alive after an off-campus party that spring.
Paul and his father were arrested 25 years after her disappearance, in April 2021.
Evidence hearings for the case began in August 2021.
The motion could be granted if it is "more probable than not" that Flores would not receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County, according to court documents.
The motion claims that Smart's disappearance has been "a topic of emotional concern" in the county for nearly 26 years, and because Flores has been the "focus of narratives" speculating that he murdered Smart, the community's attitude towards the Flores family has been "vicious and relentless."
"From the beginning, Paul Flores has been accused by law enforcement and the public as the only suspect in the disappearance and his name and photographs have been widely disseminated urging his arrest and conviction," the motion states.
"For almost 26 years, this case has truly been 'embedded in the public consciousness.'"
The motion also points out the extensive media coverage that has surrounded the case, and lists over 30 instances of times that local media has covered various aspects of the case.
"When defendants were arrested, the press was alerted and on scene to take photographs and videos," the motion states. "Every time there is a search relating to this case, the local media covers it."
The defense states that none of the local media coverage mention any other potential suspects.
The motion also lists the popularity and prominence of the missing person, the status of the accused, the size of the community, and the gravity of the alleged offense as justification for the claim that the Flores' would not receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County.