The jury at Kristin Smart’s murder trial can hear Paul Flores’ phone call about True Crime Podcast and Judges Rules

The jury in Kristin Smart’s murder trial can hear a recorded phone conversation between Paul Flores and his mother via a True Crime podcast on the case, a judge ruled Wednesday.

The conversation, recorded in January 2020, includes Susan Flores telling her son to “listen to the podcast” to find places “where we can poke holes,” prosecutors say. The podcast in question is probably Your Own Backyard, created by Chris Lambert; The podcast’s popularity catapulted the case back into the national limelight.

Around 2 a.m. on Memorial Day weekend in 1996, Kristin Smart, a 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman, returned to her dorm after attending a frat party. Smart was accompanied by three fellow students. Two broke away before reaching their dormitory and headed back to their own apartments. The third, Paul Flores, later told police he dropped her off on campus at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Perimeter Road in San Luis Obispo. Smart was never seen again.

Prosecutors say Paul Flores, 45, killed her. His father Ruben Flores, 80, is accused of helping him cover up the crime and bury Smart’s body under the family home in Arroyo Grande. Paul and Ruben Flores have pleaded not guilty to murder or accessory to murder. They will be tried simultaneously with separate juries.

Defendants Paul Flores, top left, and his father Ruben Flores, bottom center, appear via videoconference during their arraignment in the Kristin Smart case April 15, 2021 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Defendants Paul Flores, top left, and his father Ruben Flores, bottom center, appear via videoconference during their arraignment in the Kristin Smart case April 15, 2021 in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Nic Couri/AP

The long-awaited trial for one of San Luis Obispo County’s most notorious crimes had several pretrial decisions this week. Due to the defense’s argument that a fair trial was not possible in San Luis Obispo County, the trial is taking place in Salinas. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ruled Wednesday that prosecutors can use Paul and Susan Flores’ conversation as evidence; Prosecutors say when Susan Flores said, “Only you know that” in reference to “holes” in the podcast, Paul was silent. The judge ruled that the absence of a response from Paul Flores is as conclusive as a verbal response.

The defense also filed a motion to dismiss evidence obtained with a February 2020 search warrant, arguing the warrant was illegally obtained due to public pressure to resolve the case. O’Keefe ruled that the search warrant was legal and Paul Flores’ electronics seized with it were permissible. Additionally, interviews conducted by a detective with Paul Flores in 1996 can only be heard by Paul’s jury.

A motion regarding the admissibility of ground and cadaver dog evidence will be considered by O’Keefe today. A preliminary hearing last year focused primarily on testimonies from experts involved in the excavation of the Arroyo Grande house. An area below the back deck of the house was excavated and a number of experts testified that lab results showed traces of human blood in the dirt. No DNA could be extracted due to the degraded condition of the sample.


Though Smart’s body was never found, she was legally pronounced dead in 2002.

The opening speech is expected to begin on July 18th. The trial of Paul Flores is expected to last until October.

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