Man convicted in disappearance, death of college student Kristin Smart to be sentenced

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Paul Flores, the man convicted of killing Kristin Smart, who vanished from California Polytechnic University campus in 1996, is scheduled to be sentenced Friday. File Photo by Simaah from Pixabay

March 10 (UPI) — The man convicted for the decades-old disappearance and death of college student Kristin Smart is scheduled to be sentenced Friday.

Paul Flores, 46, was arrested in 2021 and found guilty of first-degree murder in October 2022. Flores could face 25 years to life at sentencing.

Smart was 19 at the time of her disappeared from California Polytechnic University’s campus in 1996. She last was seen leaving a party with Flores. Her body was never found, but she was declared dead in 2002.

Authorities maintain Flores killed Smart in a college dorm room. They also believe that Flores sexually assaulted her.

Flores was interviewed by police shortly after the disappearance and was evasive, authorities said. Flores initially said he received a bruise on his face at the time of his interview while playing basketball with friends, but he changed his story when witnesses failed to corroborate his assertion.

Police searched extensively for Smart’s remains over the course of decades, eventually narrowing their focus to the back yard of a home belonging to his father, Ruben Flores.

Investigators discovered a disturbed portion of earth in the area under the house’s deck and found human blood in the ground, but they were unable to extract DNA.

Ruben Flores, 81, was charged separately as an accessory to murder after the fact, but he was acquitted in October.

Convictions in the absence of a body are relatively rare in the United States, though they are allowed if it can be established that there is evidence that the victim is deceased.

Paul Flores’ lawyer, Robert Sanger, filed a motion saying the conviction lacked physical evidence.

“There was no evidence of a murder or that Paul Flores committed it,” Sanger said in his motion.

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