The juries overseeing the trial of Paul Flores and his father, who are accused in connection with the presumed death of missing California college student Kristin Smart over 25 years ago, heard Wednesday from the man who lived with Flores around the time when Smart disappeared, according to reports from inside the courtroom.
Paul Flores is accused of killing Smart on May 25, 1996, while both were freshman at California Polytechnic State University’s San Luis Obispo campus. His father then allegedly helped him hide her body.
The trial proceedings are not televised or live-streamed, pursuant to a judge’s ruling. A handful of journalists – including the person behind the “Your Own Backyard” podcast that is credited with renewing interest in the case – have been reporting from inside the courtroom amid the media limitations.
On Wednesday, the juries heard from multiple people who knew Smart, knew Paul Flores, or had interacted with the 19-year-old woman on the night that she was last seen, according to a series of tweets posted to the podcast’s account.
The court heard from Derrick Tse, who was a Cal Poly junior when he shared a Santa Lucia Hall dorm room with the younger Flores in 1996, according to reports from multiple news stations.
KSBY-TV reported that Tse was out of town from Friday through Tuesday for Memorial Day. Tweets from the podcast account report that Tse told Flores about his plans.
He described to the court returning to campus on the evening of May 28 and learning that police officers had been in his room to speak with Flores, the podcast tweeted.
Paul told Tse at the time that he was talking to police because after a party, he walked a pair of girls to their buildings and one of them then “went missing,” he recalled to the court, according to the tweets.
Tse reportedly recalled making a joke to Flores at the time: “I said, ‘You probably did something with her.’ And he joked back, ‘Yeah, she’s at my mom’s house right now.’”
He described Flores as being “pretty serious,” and looking Tse in the eyes at the time, according to the tweets.
Tse did not recall any changes to his and Flores’ dorm room when he returned from his trip, according to KSBY, but reportedly noted that Flores’ behavior and temperament often changed when he drank alcohol.
Under the influence of alcohol, Flores allegedly turned “overly aggressive and confrontational with other people,” according to reports.
When asked if Flores typically showered after coming home parties drunk, Tse said no, according to the tweets.
Defense attorneys questioned Tse about what he remembered about the dorm room – specifically, if Flores had a refrigerator in the room, if so, what kind, and if he stored food inside, according to the tweets.
Upon receiving a question from a juror, defense attorney Robert Sanger asks if there was “an exit door at the end of the dorm on the first floor?”
Tse reportedly responded: “Yes. Our room was the third door from the exit.”
The younger Flores is charged with murderin connection with Smart’s presumed death. His father, Ruben Flores, is charged with helping his son bury Smart’s remains. He allegedly later unearthed and relocated the remains.
Paul was allegedly the last person seen with Smart, 19, who was said to have been intoxicated after they and others had attended an off-campus frat party over the Memorial Day weekend.
The state has said Paul Flores killed Smart in his dorm room while he tried to rape her when they were both freshmen. A massive search ensued.
Earlier in the day, the juries heard from Smart’s former neighbor, named Jennifer, and Trevor Boelter, who spoke to and interacted with Smart multiple times on the night she disappeared, according to KSBY. Boelter recalled how Smart initially identified herself to him as “Roxy,” then kissed him and pulled him into the bathroom, according to the report.
In the bathroom, Boelter reportedly said she fixed her makeup and asked him if he thought she was ugly – he responded “No.” According to the report, Smart allegedly then asked him who he thought she should be with that night.
Boelter said he did not remember Smart smelling like alcohol, and he left the bathroom soon after.
After stepping out of the bathroom, a man with “authority in his voice” – whom Boelter identified in court as being Paul Flores – asked Boelter about what happened, according to the report. Boelter responded “nothing,” and Flores laughed.
Separate juries were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 Monterey County residents to oversee each case separately, but simultaneously. The trial is expected to last four months.