Credit: Laura Dickinson | SLO Tribune, Aug. 4, 2022

Editor’s note: The People v. Flores murder trial is covered each day by Mustang News. Follow @CPMustangNews on Twitter and Instagram for more updates. Read previous articles about the trial here.

Judge Jennifer O’Keefe started Friday’s hearing by addressing an email sent Thursday announcing a COVID-19 outbreak among trial participants, with three cases in one week. There is no evidence of transmission within the courtroom.

“Your health and wellbeing is our number one priority, absolutely,” O’Keefe said, thanking the jury. “We all know what a sacrifice it is for you to be here.” 

The cross examination of Richard Neufeld continued from Wednesday afternoon with Paul Flores’ defense attorney, Robert Sanger, questioning him on how he submitted evidence for the case. Different law enforcement departments handled the case, though Neufeld does not remember if Cal Poly Police had their own evidence booking system. If Neufeld packaged the evidence up, it would have gone to the Sheriff’s Department, he said.

Neufeld maintained that he gathered evidence properly. In Flores’ room, Neufeld looked for fingerprints as his job was to look for evidence and preserve it.

Neufeld was not assigned to investigate the room until a month after Flores moved out.

Neufeld said he does remember booking fibers and hairs as evidence to the crime lab. Neufeld cut out and collected pieces of Flores’ mattress after cadaver dogs had alerted to it. 

During his cross examination, Sanger established that, according to the “well established practice” of crime scene processing, scenes should be processed as carefully and as soon as possible after the alleged crime, which Neufeld agreed with.

Neufeld agreed with Sanger when he said that “waiting a month would not be ideal,” and confirmed that he was only assigned to process the room a month after Smart went missing. Janitorial staff had already cleaned the room by the time it was processed, and Flores and his roommate, Derrick Tse, had been living there until the end of the year.  

Neufeld confirmed that he never found any evidence of Kristin Smart ever being inside Paul Flores’ dorm room.

Friend staying in Smart’s dorm the night she disappeared testifies

Jana Lord, formerly known as Jana Schrock in 1996, was called to the stand. During the spring of 1996, Lord was a student in Ohio and friends with Smart’s then-roommate, Crystal Teschendorf, formerly known as Crystal Calvin. Lord visited Teschendorf for Memorial Day weekend, arriving at Teschendorfand Smart’s dorm around 5 or 6 p.m. 

When Lord arrived at the dorm room in the early afternoon that Friday, she noticed a large “pile of clothes” on Smart’s bed. Smart’s bed remained untouched at different points that Lord recalls, including at midnight when Lord and Teschendorf got back to the dorm that night as well as the following morning at 9 a.m. when Lord woke up.

The night of May 24, Lord and Teschendorf went to a function and returned to the dorm around midnight. Smart was not there when they got back.

Teschendorf let Lord into the room, where she stayed to sleep while Teschendorf went to spend the night at her boyfriend’s dorm. 

Around 2 or 3 a.m. Teschendorf’s boyfriend’s roommate, Ted Munley, knocked on her window. 

Munley wanted Lord to let him into her room since Teschendorf was sleeping in his room. Lord joined Munley for an outside smoke for 15 minutes before they both returned to the room, which Lord maintained was the only time frame where she wasn’t in the room the entire night since she got back at midnight 

Lord fell asleep with Munley sleeping on the floor. However, upon waking up, Munley was lying in the bed next to Lord. 

In an earlier testimony, Lord said that if Smart entered the room and turned the lights on, she would have noticed. But had Smart left the lights off, Lord “wouldn’t have known.” In her testimony on Friday, Lord said she thought she likely would have woken up regardless, but that she believed her earlier statement.

Jury views video recording of woman asking Flores, ‘What’d you do with her?’

Karen Hall lived in Arroyo Grande along with her two children, both of which attended Arroyo Grande High School. Her son went to high school with Flores, though Flores was a year older.

At a graduation party in June, Hall went around the room messing with her son’s friends and recording the party. She asked if Flores knew anything about Smart going missing, aware Flores went to Cal Poly but not that he was involved in the investigation. 

The recording played on Friday. “Do you have any information on that missing girl, what’d you do with her?”

Flores “put his head down,” Hall said. “He never talked to me after that.”

Flores did say something in the recording, as Sanger pointed out, but the audio quality was poor, so no one could make anything out in the courtroom on Friday. 

Hall said she did not recall what he said to her in response, either.

Investigator says car could park directly behind Flores’ dorm window

San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office Senior Investigator JT Camp returned to the stand for a third time, previously testifying on Aug. 1 and 4. 

On Friday, Camp clarified phone call history from Paul Flores’ dorm, floor plans of the red-brick residence halls and confirmed that a car would be able to drive behind Flores’ Santa Lucia Residence Hall. 

DuringCamp’s testimony, prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle presented phone calls to the courtroom. One call included a four-second call someone in the dorm made to Paul Flores’ sister, Hermalinda Flores, on the night Smart went missing. However, Sanger established that the brevity of the phone call could imply an answering machine or a hang up rather than an actual conversation.

In statements to the police in 1996, Flores said that he did not let his sister know he was going to her house. He said his plan was to go see her on May 24 when he happened upon the party on Crandall Way.

Camp established that someone could “certainly” pass through Crandall Way on their way from the Santa Lucia dorms to Paul Flores’ sister’s house, which is the alleged route that Flores took that night.

Peuvrelle also showed Camp pictures of the Santa Lucia dorms, with the windows facing the road that passes through the back of the dorms, Mountain Lane.

Camp established that cars could drive down that road and park directly behind the dorms, and also said that the dorms’ windows can slide open halfway.

Though the theory was not directly addressed on Friday, the prosecution believes that Flores killed Smart in his dorm room and somehow moved her body to his dad’s house the next morning.

Despite Sanger’s argument that residents or a passerby could easily see Flores’ window from Mountain Lane and other locations, Camp countered, saying there are points of vision that the window cannot be seen from. 

“Agree to disagree,” Camp said.

There was also speculation about a white administration building that may have existed in 1996 between the Santa Lucia and Trinity halls, a potential place where lots of people could gather within sight of the back of the dorms. 

Camp was not sure the building was there in 1996, but Peuvrelle established that, in any case, an administration building would be closed Memorial Day weekend and that staff would not be present in the nearby area.

Sanger disagreed, arguing that many people could still be around on campus. Camp clarified that he wasn’t sure if the building was even there in 1996, and Sanger established that, if it wasn’t, the back of the Santa Lucia dorms would be facing the windows of the Trinity dorms.

Camp agreed, but added that the Trinity dorms would be “on higher ground,” undermining the direct line of sight that Sanger was trying to establish.

The trial will proceed Monday at 8:30 a.m.