SALINAS, Calif. – The Kristin Smart murder trial resumed in a Salinas courtroom on Thursday after an unexpected two-day delay due to "health issues."
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.
Opening statements for Paul Flores wrapped up on Monday, and Thursday morning began with the conclusion of opening statements for Ruben Flores.
Ruben's attorney, Harold Mesick, presented the opening statements, saying the case is tragic for the Smart family, but that there is no evidence to convict Ruben.
Mesick said that for the last 26 years, Ruben has had people throwing things at his house, has been chased out of restaurants and was constantly harassed by the community.
He presented three examples of the prosecution shading evidence in the case. Mesick claimed that Smart's father went to the Flores home and confronted both Paul and Ruben in the driveway even though he was told not to. The prosecution said the story happened the other way around.
Mesick also claimed that Smart's mother, Denise, sent a "Jesus letter" to Kristin, but that it was sarcastic in tone.
Denise later described the letter as a "buckle up buttercup" letter, saying that there are times when parents need to be parents.
Mesick said that the District Attorney issuing evidence and events is an improper way to incriminate Ruben.
Mesick also claimed that the soil collected from under his home, which is going to be used as evidence by the prosecution, was decomposing organic material. He said there were avocado trees at the home before it was built in 1991, and added that the trees contain decomposing organic material.
Mesick continued by describing the night that Kristin Smart went missing, and argued that it doesn't make sense for Paul to take Kristin's dead body in the middle of the day, load it up in a truck with Ruben, and bury it at their house.
He claimed that there was no evidence of DNA, clothes, bones, or teeth.
Mesick said that there has to be more evidence, because in this case, "there is no evidence." He called everything to be presented "ambiguous evidence."
Mesick concluded by detailing all of the accomplishments that Ruben Flores has had, such as volunteering with the Redondo Beach Police Department and serving in the U.S. military.
"This is a good man. This is a good father, this is a good husband," he said. "My client is absolutely innocent. Don't be fooled, be skeptical. At the end of the day, Kristin Smart will be missing and we don't know where she is."
Puevrelle called Denise Smart to the stand, first just asking questions about her relationship with Kristin and Kristin's relationship with her siblings. Denise talked about her daughter's time at Cal Poly during college, saying that Sundays were the best days for them to talk, but that Kristin would call at any time when she ran out of money.
Denise also noted that her daughter never missed school for an extended period of time.
Denise described the last time she saw Kristin, Easter of 1996 when the family wad going from Los Angeles to Stockton and made a stop at Cal Poly, saying that Kristin seemed "thrilled" to see them. She also recalled the last time she spoke to her daughter, assuming it was the Sunday before she disappeared.
Denise also mentioned that Kristin was not happy at the university, saying that it "wasn't a fit for her."
She described the runaround she got from local law enforcement agencies when trying to find out information when Kristin first went missing. Denise said she spent the last 25 years looking for answers.
"I felt like the life of her daughter was of no value to anyone but her family," she said, crying.
Kristin's brother, Matt, and father, Stan, were then called to testify.
News Channel 3-12 had a team in the courtroom and will continue bringing updates from day two of the trial throughout the day.