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Suspects in 1996 murder of Kristin Smart make first court appearance via Zoom


(NEW YORK) — Paul Flores, the man charged with murder this week in connection to the 1996 disappearance of his college classmate, Kristin Smart, made a brief first appearance in court via Zoom on Thursday.

Smart, a 19-year-old freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo disappeared in the early hours of May 25, 1996, after a party near school.

Flores — who was arrested for murder on Tuesday — walked Smart home from that party, and previously was named the “prime suspect,” authorities said.

Flores is accused of causing the teen’s death during an attempted rape, San Luis Obispo District Attorney Dan Dow said Wednesday.

During Thursday’s court appearance, Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, requested the arraignment be continued until Monday and will enter a plea at that time.

Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, is accused of helping conceal Smart’s body after the murder, Dow said.

Ruben Flores was charged Tuesday as an accessory to the murder after the fact and appeared in court via Zoom along with his son on Thursday.

Harold Mesick, Ruben’s attorney, also asked to continue the arraignment to Monday.

Paul Flores will remain held on no bail and his father is held on $250,000 bail, the judge said.

The father and son will return to court on Monday afternoon.

Smart’s family said in a statement Thursday, “After nearly 25 years of waiting, today’s delay in the arraignment process was not unexpected or surprising. Make no mistake, we have begun the final quest to bring justice for Kristin. We know we are in good hands with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s office, and we will wait patiently for the process to commence.”

Despite this week’s arrests, Smart’s remains have not been found, San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said.

“We are not going to stop until Kristin has been recovered,” he said Tuesday.

Smart’s family said in a statement Tuesday, “The knowledge that a father and son, despite our desperate pleas for help, could have withheld this horrible secret for nearly 25 years, denying us the chance to lay our daughter to rest, is an unrelenting and unforgiving pain.”

“We now put our faith in the justice system and move forward, comforted in the knowledge that Kristin has been held in the hearts of so many and that she has not been forgotten,” they said.

Dow said Wednesday that his office is seeking information from the public on other potential crimes committed by Paul Flores or his father.

“Paul Flores was known to frequent bars in the San Pedro area from 2005 until the present day,” Dow said, asking anyone with information to call San Luis Obispo County Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867.

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