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Court finishes jury selection, hears final motions in Kristin Smart murder case, trial begins Monday

SALINAS, Calif. – A Monterey County Superior Court heard final motions for the high-profile Kristin Smart murder case on Thursday following the culmination of jury selection earlier this week. The trial will officially start on Monday.

Paul Flores is accused of killing Smart, who was a 19-year-old Cal Poly student at the time of her disappearance in May 1996, because he was reportedly the last one to see her alive after an off-campus party that spring. Paul's father, Ruben Flores, is charged as an accessory to the crime.

Smart's family and loved ones crowded the courtroom on Thursday to hear the final motions, according to a News Channel 3-12 crew on the scene.

Podcaster Chris Lambert, who is credited with reviving interest in the Smart case after releasing a 10-part series on his "Your Own Backyard" podcast, was served a subpoena to testify as a witness.

Lambert was subpoenaed for the case in 2021 back when it was still being held in San Luis Obispo County, but Judge Craig B. Van Rooyen denied the subpoena, saying it would have "chilling effects" on reporters and constitutional violations.

On Thursday, an agreement was made to allow Lambert to remain in the courtroom even though potential witnesses or witnesses are typically not allowed to do so.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O'Keefe, who is presiding over the case, ruled that evidence of blood collected at Ruben Flores' home can be used in court.

Thursday's motions foreshadowed what will take place during the trial, for example, the motions revealed that there will be a testimony on a 'human stain' found in the dirt below a deck at the home.

However, the judge did not allow testimony from a witness who claimed she heard Paul Flores admit to burying smart. O'keefe deemed the potential witness unreliable after the defense accused her of being under the influence at the time.

Paul and his father were arrested 25 years after her disappearance, in April 2021.

Evidence hearings for the case first began in San Luis Obispo County in August 2021, but the case was moved to Monterey County in March after Flores' defense team successfully argued that he could not receive a fair and impartial trial in San Luis Obispo County.

Jury selection began on June 13 and concluded this week.

The trial will officially begin in a Salinas Superior Courthouse on Monday.

Final motions will continue throughout the day on Thursday, check back with News Channel 3-12 for updates.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County
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Jade Martinez-Pogue

Jade Martinez-Pogue is the Assignment Editor and web journalist at News Channel 3-12. To learn more about Jade, click here

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