Several people who attended a California college with Kristin Smart testified about their experiences not only with the longtime missing student, but also about their run-ins with “creepy guy” Paul Flores, who is now on trial for her murder, according to reports.
Three people who knew Smart or saw her on the night she was last seen took the stand on Tuesday in a Monterey County courtroom, where Paul Flores, now 45, and his father, 81-year-old Ruben Flores are standing trial on charges related to her disappearance and death.
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 was credited with renewing interest in the case – have been reporting from inside the courtroom despite the media limitations.
On Tuesday, the jury first heard from a Cal Poly student-athlete named Steve, who resumed his testimony from Monday, according to the podcast’s Twitter account.
Steve, whose last name was withheld by the podcast reporter, lived in the same dormitory as Smart and told prosecutors he would see Paul Flores in the residence’s common areas, despite that he did not live there.
“I knew of Paul Flores because women told me they were uncomfortable around him.”
He described his feeling that Flores was “kind of like following Kristin,” according to tweets from the podcast.
In one instance, Steven reportedly saw Flores alone in the dorm’s study area at 1 a.m. and without books.
“It was odd,” he said. “Like, you don’t live in this dorm. He was just around.”
Steve also told the jury he once passed by Smart’s dorm room and saw the door open and Flores standing inside with Smart, who was “back by, like, where the desks were,” according to the report.
He recalled how it looked like Smart was “not okay with it.”
In response to a question from prosecutors, Steve said “girls in the dorm would tell me he made them uncomfortable.”
Steve said he did not see Smart act interested in Flores, according to the report. When asked if he saw Flores in the dorm building after Smart disappeared, he said no.
During cross-examination from defense, Steve conceded that he told investigators last year that Flores “was a f—– creep. He was a creeper.”
Defense attorneys implied in questioning to Steve that he only knew of Flores because of the media coverage of the case.
“You only knew who Paul Flores was because his name was all over the news, right?” attorney Robert Sanger asked, according to the report.
Steve responded: “I knew of Paul Flores because women told me they were uncomfortable around him.”
Sanger pushed the topic again later, asking Steve to confirm that he “didn’t know Paul Flores’ name until after the publicity,” according to the report.
But Steve fired back: “No, I did. The same way people knew me, like, ‘That’s Steve from the basketball team,’ people around the dorms knew, ‘That’s Paul. He’s the creepy guy.’”
When Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, Harold Mesick, asked Steve why he waited to speak out about Flores or Smart, instead of doing so when she disappeared, Steve responded that as an African American man from East Oakland, he “was taught to be scared of the police.” He said he later became a police officer.
The younger Flores is charged with murder in 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.
The juries also heard from two other Cal Poly students on Tuesday who attended the same party as Smart on the night she disappeared.
One of those students, who was identified as Matt, recalled being approached by a girl who said her name was “Roxy,” but who was actually Smart, according to the report.
After Smart his conversation with Smart ended, Flores allegedly walked up to Matt, he told the court.
According to Matt, Flores asked him how he and Smart knew each other, according to the podcast’s tweets. Flores also allegedly called Smart “good-looking” or “hot.”
“He was definitely interested” in Smart, Matt reportedly said.
Matt and his friend later saw Smart lying on the lawn of the house where the party was being held, with on her side and with her hands over her head, according to the report. When he asked her if she needed help, she allegedly said she was okay and wasn’t ready to leave.
Defense attorneys later pointed out that Matt “refused to speak to our defense investigator when she contacted [him],” according to the report.
Matt agreed with Sanger’s question that Smart was “dressed … attractively for a party.”
Proceedings are scheduled to resume on Wednesday morning with continued testimony from another student, identified as Trevor.
Separate juries were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 Monterey County residents to oversee each case. The trial is expected to last four months.