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Kristin Smart murder trial continues in Salinas courtroom

SALINAS, Calif. – After another unexpected delay in the Kristin Smart murder trial last week, the trial picked back up in a Salinas courtroom 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.

The trial was scheduled to continue on Tuesday, July 26, but was postponed because a juror in Ruben Flores' jury could not make it.

It resumed on Monday with San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office investigator James Camp taking the stand. Initial questioning by prosecuting attorney Chris Peuvrelle began centered on Camp's background and work experience.

Camp has worked for the District Attorney's Office since 2012 and served at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office prior to that. He attended Cal Poly from 1991-1995.

The questioning then pivoted to Cal Poly's red brick dormitories on campus. Camp delved into the layout of the dorms and the topography of the surrounding area.

Peuvrelle then went through multiple photographs that Camp took of the home, located at 135 Crandall Way, where Smart and Paul Flores interacted on May 24, 1996, right before her disappearance. Camp discussed the travel path from the house to the red brick dorms, and Peuvrelle ended his questioning by indicating that he will call on Camp later in the trial.

Defense attorney Robert Sanger then began his cross-examination, asking several questions about various travel paths and walking options from the house to the dorms.

"There's a million options," Camp said.

Sanger then asked about the photos of the Crandall Way house that Camp took in July 2021. He asked if Camp knew if there were any police photos taken of the house in 1996 or at any point through 2021, to which Camp said he was unsure.

Court resumed after a morning recess with Smart's roommate at the time of her disappearance, Crystal Teschendorf but at the time Crystal Calvin, taking the stand.

Tischendorf moved into Smart's dorm room in Muir Hall during the middle of the school year in February 1996 while the two were freshmen.

She testified that she did not get to know Smart very well because they both already had different friends and majors when they met.

"I knew her, but we were not good friends," she said.

She described the night of Smart's disappearance on May 24 during questioning from the prosecution. Teschendorf and Jana Schrock, her friend who was visiting from out of town, talked to Smart and another Muir Hall resident about their evening plans.

Smart and the other resident, Margarita Campos, mentioned that they might attend a party at a house on Crandall Way, while Teschendorf and Schrock said they were planning on going to a couple of parties elsewhere, Teschendorf recalled.

She remembered leaving the dorm room around 8 p.m. that night and never saw Smart again, she said, adding that Smart was in a 'good mood' during their last encounter.

Peuvrelle asked her several questions about Smart's personal items in the room that she routinely took with her when she left, and where she would keep them while she was in the room.

Teschendorf said that Smart typically took a red backpack with her wherever she went, along with her keys that were attached to a small wallet holding her Cal Poly student ID.

She testified that she and Schrock returned to the dorm room sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., and that she then went to stay the night in her boyfriend's room in nearby Fremont Hall while Schrock stayed in her bed.

Teschendorf returned to her room between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Saturday and noticed that Smart's backpack and keys were in the same place that she saw them the night before, she testified.

She said she assumed that Smart had not returned that night, adding that "for her to not come back without anyone knowing was unusual."

Teschendorf said that she spoke with multiple other residents about where Smart could be and discussed several scenarios that could explain her absence. But after several hours passed, some of those scenarios became less likely, she said.

Teschendorf and a handful of other female residents called law enforcement on Sunday, May 26, but said that the police did not show up that day.

She made another call to law enforcement on Tuesday, May 28, because she had been missing for a few days and missed class by that time.

At that time, Teschendorf said her level of concern was "very, very high" since her absence was "out of character."

She testified that Smart's personal items, particularly her backpack and keys, were never moved between Friday, May 24 and Tuesday, May 28.

Sanger then briefly began his cross-examination before a lunch recess was called. He asked about Teschendorf's boyfriend and his roommate, and whether they went to the party on Crandall Way the night of Smart's disappearance.

After the lunch break, Sanger again asked if she knew the whereabouts that night of her boyfriend's roommate.

Teschendorf said he went to a party with them before leaving to go somewhere else.

Sanger also brought up a couple of interviews Teschendorf provided to law enforcement after Smart's disappearance.

In one of them with then-District Attorney's Office investigator Larry Hobson, Teschendorf said Smart would occasionally stay somewhere else overnight and not return back to the dorm room.

However, Teschedort pointed out Smart would never stay away multiple days and would let her know her plans.

Sanger brought up what type of communication Smart had with her family, asking if she seldom received calls.

Teschendorf said she never met the Smart family while living with Kristin Smart, but added, "I know she got calls from her family weekly."

He then asked if Smart had any difficulty with other women in the dorm, which Teschendorf replied, "not to my knowledge."

During redirection, Peuvrelle brought Smart's backpack and keys, asking her to identify two photos, which she replied showed the backpack and a toiletry bag.

Teschendorf said both items was in their room in the exact same location on Saturday and in the following days as they were on the Friday night Smart disappeared.

The next witness called was Steve Fleming, a basketball player for Cal Poly at the time, who also lived in Muir Hall, the same as Smart.

Fleming spoke of moving from Muir Hall to an unidentified concrete campus dorm and then back to Muir Hall, all within a short time period.

He said he had struck up a friendship with Smart during the first days of the school year in September 1995, initially thinking Smart was a fellow athlete due to her height.

Fleming added the two had a class together and would speak on occasion, especially after the basketball season ended in February.

At the end of the day, Judge Jennifer O'Keefe reminded jurors to always refrain from speaking about the case with anyone and to not research past or present media articles for addition information.

Court is expected to resume Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.

Article Topic Follows: San Luis Obispo County

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Jade Martinez-Pogue

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