Man Convicted Of Killing Kristin Smart Sentenced To 25 Years To Life

In October, a jury found Paul Flores guilty of first-degree murder in the 1996 case that was revived after a 2019 podcast.
Kristin Smart was in her first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo when she vanished in 1996.
Kristin Smart was in her first year at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo when she vanished in 1996.
Don Kelsen via Getty Images

Paul Flores was sentenced Friday to 25 years to life for the 1996 murder of California college student Kristin Smart, according to the office of the San Luis Obispo County district attorney.

A Monterey County jury found Flores guilty of first-degree murder in October. Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe handed down the sentence in San Luis Obispo five months later.

His sentence marks a close to a nearly 27-year mystery. A September 2019 podcast called “Your Own Backyard” looked into Smart’s then-unsolved disappearance, placing the tragedy back into the public eye.

Smart, a 19-year-old first-year student at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, was last seen as she walked home from an off-campus party in May 1996 with Flores, a fellow student. Initially, Flores was considered a “person of interest” in the case. Investigators had questioned him and searched his dorm.

But it wasn’t until the case was revived in 2021 that Flores became a “prime suspect” and was placed under arrest.

Flores’ attorney attempted to convince jurors that another then-Cal Poly student, Scott Peterson — who years after leaving college was convicted of first- and second-degree murder in the death of his wife and their unborn child, a case that gripped national attention— was responsible for Smart’s murder.

Smart’s remains were never found, but she was declared legally dead in 2002.

Prosecutors accused Flores’ father, Ruben Flores, of helping Paul Flores hide Smart’s body, but a jury ultimately found his father not guilty.

“A clandestine grave” was discovered under Ruben Flores’ home, offering evidence that a body had been buried there before being removed.

Paul Flores’ attorney did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

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