A California man convicted of killing Kristin Smart, a college student who disappeared in 1996, will be sentenced Friday.
Paul Flores, 46, was found guilty of first-degree murder by a Monterey County jury in October and faces up to 25 years in prison.
Prosecutors accused him of killing Smart during an attempted rape on May 25, 1996, in their dorm room at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, where they were both students.
Smart’s remains were never found. He was declared legally dead in 2002.
Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, was acquitted of being an accessory after the fact in October.
Prosecutors said Paul Flores was the last person seen with a very intoxicated Smart walking home from an off-campus party. Prosecutors alleged that her body may have been buried under a deck behind Ruben Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande. Prosecutors said the father was charged with helping bury Smart and digging up and moving the remains.
Both men had pleaded not guilty in the case.
Paul Flores was long considered a suspect in the murder, but prosecutors arrested him and his father in 2021 after the investigation was revived.
Smart’s high-profile cases have attracted the attention of cold case enthusiasts for years.
Investigators had made dozens of discoveries over two decades. Over the years, Ruben Flores’ home about 12 miles south of Cal Poly has received attention.
Prosecutors said that behind lattice work under the deck of his house, in March 2021 archaeologists working for police found a soil disturbance about the size of a coffin and the presence of human blood, but were unable to extract a DNA sample. The blood was bad.
Flores’ October sentence was little consolation for Smart’s family.
After reading the verdict to Flores father and son, Smart’s father Stan Smart said, “Without Kristin, there is no joy or happiness in this verdict.” “After 26 years, with today’s split verdict, we have learned that our pursuit of justice for Kristin will continue.”