Sept. 22 (UPI) — The man accused in the 1996 disappearance of college student Kristin Smart will stand trial in California for her death, officials said Wednesday.
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office said that Paul Flores, 44, and his father, 80-year-old Ruben Flores, who was charged as an accessory in the case, completed their preliminary hearings on Monday and will be arraigned Oct. 20.
On Wednesday a judge “determined sufficient evidence was presented at the hearing for the defendants to be tried on the charges,” the district attorney’s office said.
“We continue to support the family of Kristin Smart as we work toward justice,” District Attorney Dan Dow said.
The pair were arrested in April after San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the department was able to interview multiple new witnesses in 2019, in part due to information featured in the Your Own Backyard podcast and that the department found physical evidence from at least two homes.
The younger Flores faces a charge of first-degree murder for allegedly killing Smart in his dorm room at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo when they both were 19 years old.
He was the last person to see Smart after they were seen together leaving a house party on Memorial Day weekend in 1996.
Her body was never found despite an extensive search effort including K-9 units, helicopters and ground-penetrating radar. Authorities declared her dead in 2002.
In July, a California judge denied a request from the district attorney’s office to add two rape charges against Paul Flores from unrelated rape cases from in Los Angeles County years after Smart vanished.
Prosecutors said that Paul Flores raped, or attempted to rape, Smart on the night of her disappearance and accused him of being a serial rapist.
“Dozens of women have recounted Paul Flores’ sexual assaults and predatory behavior that document his twenty-five years as a serial rapist,” Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle said.
Paul Flores’ father has been charged as an accessory to the murder as prosecutors allege he helped hide Smart’s body.
A sheriff’s office detective said investigators in the case are “in possession of biological evidence that makes them believe the victim was buried underneath the defendant’s deck at one time.”