Kristin Smart’s murder trial resumed on Monday after a delay related to an unnamed “evidence issue” on Friday.
Paul and Ruben Flores are on trial for the murder of Kristin Smart, who disappeared from the Cal Poly campus in May 1996 after an off-campus party.
Witnesses say Paul Flores was the last person seen with her. Paul is charged with the murder of the 19-year-old while his father, Ruben, is charged with complicity, accused of helping hide the body.
A contractor who built Ruben’s house and a former roommate who lived in the house from 2010 to 2020 were both on the witness stand on Monday, but before testimony could begin, the County Superior Court judge of Monterey, Jennifer O’Keefe, met with several jurors independently to discuss the disputes. waiting.
This latest delay follows an early close of proceedings on Friday after only about 15 minutes of testimony.
Just after 9:30 a.m. Monday, the contractor who built the house Ruben currently lives in began answering questions.
Developer Ed Chadwell described the steep slope of the land and the construction of the house’s foundation, which required digging down to solid rock sometimes as much as eight feet below ground.
San Luis Obispo County Assistant District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked Chadwell if they found any remains under or near the house when workers were building the deck and if any serious injuries were reported by the workers. .
Chadwell answered no to both questions while explaining how Ruben and Susan Flores agreed to buy the house while it was under construction. It was completed and handed over to the Flores in August 1991.
During cross-examination, Paul’s attorney, Robert Sanger, showed Chadwell some of the building plans and the permit application along with several photos of the house while it was under construction.
Sanger asked the builder to explain how the deck was built and describe any changes made to the house’s foundation once it was under construction. He also showed Chadwell some pink construction twine and asked if it was similar to the one he used to mark the foundation in 1991.
Chadwell said it was similar and his favorite color to use was pink because he saw himself well.
Sanger also asked Chadwell if he had ever used diesel fuel as a “release agent” to help prevent concrete from sticking to construction forms. Chadwell said it was common practice in the 90s and he used it sometimes.
The questions are likely to explain some of the items found in the ground below deck during a search of the house, including discoloration of the dirt and red fibers.
Kristin Smart was reportedly wearing red at the time of her disappearance.
Sanger also asked several questions that the jury put to the witness, including what the ground conditions were under the bridge, why the footings had to be so deep, and how high the crawl space was under the house and the bridge.
Chadwell explained that the area was soil above rock, so the footings had to be dug down to rock in all areas.
He said the height of the crawl space varied due to the slope under the house, but you could easily stand up in some places.
Ruben’s lawyer, Harold Mesick, asked Chadwell if the house was connected to a septic tank or a sewage system and where the cleanouts were, again presumably to explain some of the items found during the search .
The hearing resumed in the afternoon, making it a busy day for testimony.
A former roommate, David Stone, who lived with Ruben for 10 years testified to his time in the house from 2010 to 2020.
He told jurors of a time he moved a few empty 55-gallon plastic drums into the space below deck. Stone said Ruben was angry that he didn’t ask permission in advance and eventually made him move the drums.
He also testified that he heard Ruben refer to Kristin as an “*expletive bitch”.
Cross-examined by Sanger and Mesick, Stone said he got on well with Ruben during his stay at the house and moved out voluntarily. At one point he said he asked Ruben to move out.
Next on the stand were two investigators from the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office.
Detective Clint Cole spoke about his interview with Stone, and Detective Matt Terrell described serving a search warrant at Ruben’s home.
Terrell showed photos of items found in a drawer in Ruben’s room. Items include pamphlets, newspaper articles and postcards referencing the Kristin Smart case.
Monday ended with a neighbor of Ruben Flores testifying to what she described as strange activity in February 2020.
Jamilyn Holman says she heard lots of arguing and other noises as Ruben and Susan Flores, along with Susan’s boyfriend, removed part of a fence and then parked a trailer next to the house after dark.
At one point in court, there was a heated exchange between Peuvrelle and Sanger. Sanger wanted to review some photos taken by Holman and Peuvrelle said he had already provided them.
Judge O’Keefe asked to speak to the lawyers in the hallway and when they returned, Sanger raised several objections, all of which were overruled by Judge O’Keefe. The photos were eventually admitted into evidence.
During Holman’s cross-examination, Sanger asked about his knowledge of the “Your Own Backyard” podcast. Holman said she was aware of this and the FBI searched the house on February 5, 2020.
She testified that the incident involving the cargo trailer happened on February 9, 2020, but says she didn’t report it until March 2021.
Holman also admitted to meeting Jim Murphy, the Smart family’s attorney, before going to detectives.
Paul and Ruben Flores are tried together, but each has separate juries that will ultimately return separate verdicts.
Following their arrest in April 2021, Ruben was released on bail and has been free since shortly after his arrest. however, Paul was denied bail and remains in custody.
If convicted, Paul faces a sentence of 25 years to life. Ruben faces a maximum sentence of three years in prison if convicted.