SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif.– The motion to delay next week's scheduled Dec. 9 sentencing hearing of Paul Flores in the Kristin Smart murder trial to a later date has been approved.
Judge Jennifer O'Keefe granted the defense motion in a Monterey County courtroom on Friday morning setting a new date for the sentencing hearing to next year.
The new date was scheduled for Mar. 10, 2023, which allow Paul Flores' Defense Attorney Robert Sanger time to review transcripts of the trial as he begins preparations to file a future motion for a new trial.
Sanger will seek a new trial during the March 10 hearing. O'Keefe is expected to rule on the motion at that time.
If O'Keefe rules against the motion, Flores will be sentenced afterwards. However, should she rule in favor of a new trial, it will begin a new chapter in his high-profile and long-running case.
A status hearing will be held on February 9, 2023 to make sure both the defense and prosecution are on track for the March sentencing.
Friday's hearing was conducted online with Flores, Sanger, SLO County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peurvelle and members of the Smart family all appearing via Zoom.
Only O'Keefe, court staff, members of the media and spectators were in the courtroom during the 45-minute long hearing.
Flores did not speak while on camera from his location at the San Luis Obispo County Jail, where he has been returned since the October verdict.
Flores was found guilty of the 1996 murder of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart on Oct.18. Flores attended the same off-campus party as Smart and was the last person to see her alive.
His father Ruben Flores was tried at the same time as being an accessory to the crime. A separate jury found Ruben Flores not guilty.
Smart's body has never been found in the 26 years since her disappearance and murder.