Editor’s note: The Kristin Smart trial will be covered daily by Mustang News. To stay updated, follow @CPMustangNews on Twitter and Instagram.
At a house party Memorial Day weekend in 1996, Cuesta College student Kendra Koed said she saw Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart fall over in the hallway, with another student, Paul Flores, standing over her.
Koed said Smart was “unstable” and clearly not sober, even though she didn’t see her drinking. After helping her up and taking her outside, Koed told Smart to “stay away” from Flores.
Smart went missing after that night. Now, 26 years later, Paul Flores is being charged with her murder, and his father, Ruben Flores is being charged with accessory to the crime.
Koed was one of two former students to testify in the Kristin Smart murder trial on Friday.
“I was uncomfortable with the interaction,” Koed said. “After my previous experience with him that same evening, I was uncomfortable with his behavior towards her.”
Upon arriving at the party, Koed went around asking if anyone had gum. In doing so, she met Paul Flores. After talking for a little, Flores started to kiss her without her consent.
Koed then followed Flores to his car for some gum, where she said Flores “grabbed [her] arms” and kissed her again. She pushed him off and went back inside, telling her friends that Flores was strange.
After this first interaction with Flores, Koed saw him standing over Smart, prompting her warning to “stay away from that guy.”
A couple hours later, Koed saw Smart lying down on the driveway outside another house and asked if she needed a ride home. However, Smart declined, saying she already had a ride.
Koed was featured in the second episode of Chris Lambert’s “Your Own Backyard” podcast, which is about Smart’s disappearance. Her connection to the podcast was questioned by Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, who on multiple occasions asked if the podcast was directed at getting Paul Flores convicted for the crime. Koed said she could not speak on Lambert’s behalf.
Another student, Vanessa Shields, took the stand.
Shields was friends with Kristin Smart while they attended Cal Poly together. Shields said she had seen Paul Flores on campus, but it wasn’t until a party a few weeks before Krsitin’s disappearance that they interacted with each other.
Shields recalled Flores’ attempt to make small talk with them was very awkward. Although Shields said she was immediately unsettled by the interaction, she said Smart was extremely polite to him.
But throughout the party, Shields said Flores began staring at Smart.
“It left me feeling very unsettled, very uneasy,” Shields said. “[The staring] was very intent on Kristin. At 19, we just thought ‘that guy is creepy.’”
Shields recalled Flores staring at Smart at another party, as well.
Yet Mesick questioned how Shields was able to recognize, years later, that “whoever the creepy guy was,” was Flores. Shields said a photo she saw of him after Smart’s disappearance reminded her, given the general uneasiness around his behavior as well from previous incidents.
“It’s a feeling I’ve always had,” Shields said. That feeling got more validated as years went on, she testified.
After the party, Smart told Shields she was not interested in Paul Flores at all. Shield said Paul was “socially awkward” and not “Kristin’s type,” which she described as more athletic and “good looking.”
The last time Shields saw Smart was Friday morning, before she went missing. Shields said she left on Friday to spend Memorial Day weekend in San Diego. The two had planned to catch up when Shields returned Monday night, according to her testimony.
When Shields returned, Smart was not there and “there were key items” that were still in her dorm including her makeup, hairbrush and other basic items that she would not travel or go far away without taking, Shields said. She added that Smart wouldn’t have left without telling anyone.
“She was very vocal about… any plans that she might’ve had,” Shields said.
Realizing something was wrong, Shields and a few others went to the RA and contacted CPPD shortly after.
Kristin Smart’s father questioned about his focus on the Flores Family
The cross examination of Stan Smart, Kristin’s father, continued on Friday as well, picking up from Thursday’s hearing.
On Thursday, Kristin’s mother, father and brother all testified.
When finishing up Stan Smart’s cross examination on Friday, defense attorney Robert Sanger criticized the Smart Family for responding, “I don’t recall” to many of his questions.
Sanger asked if the San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s office told the family to repeatedly say they don’t recall pieces of information, to which Stan Smart denied.
“It’s been a long, long time,” Stan said.
During a three-month long search for his daughter shortly after her disappearance in 1996, Stan helped distribute a flyer that listed a $10,000 reward if Kristin were found. The flyer also listed Paul Flores as the main suspect and included a photo of him, his age and hair color, as well as Ruben Flores’ phone number and address.
The flyer that Sanger presented as evidence on Friday was hard to read, and Stan could not recall what the flyer stated. During cross examination, Sanger originally said the reward was $100,000. Prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle objected to the flyer as evidence due to its lack of legibility. The same flyer but in better condition was brought out so Stan could read it more clearly.
Stan said he did not create the flyer, and maintained that he did not know people would call the number or visit the home as a result of distributing it.
Ruben Flores’ defense attorney, Harold Mesick, continued questioning Stan Smart. Mesick claimed that Stan frequented the road to the Flores’ house “several times.” The Flores’ former lawyer reportedly advised Stan to not go to the Flores’ house.
Stan had recalled that the Flores’ attorney was “asserting himself on me and telling me I couldn’t drive up there…he was being real forceful.”
Stan said the Flores residence was on a “public street,” and it was within his right to drive up there.
Upon learning that Paul Flores was the last person to see his daughter, Stan said he visited Ruben Flores and introduced himself at a distance, still off of Ruben’s property. Stan said Ruben had a threatening demeanor and unwillingness to talk. Stan recalled Ruben telling him, “You ought to leave or someone might get shot.”
“I didn’t do it in a way that someone would be intimidated,” Stan said. “I got out, I introduced myself. And then he made that comment.”
Mesick questioned the circumstances of Stan’s trips to the street outside the Flores’ house.
“You made no effort to let him know you were coming, you were advised by a detective not to go,” Mesick said.
On one occasion in 1996, Stan said he saw the Flores family drive a U-Haul truck from their house. Ruben Flores was helping his daughter move.
Stan allegedly followed the truck to Buellton. Mesick claimed that Stan hid in the bushes to take pictures of the U-Haul truck, though Stan said he was on the road, in his car. Stan called the Sheriff’s Department afterward to notify them of the truck.
These testimonies are evidence in both Paul and Ruben Flores’ cases, Presiding Judge Jennifer O’Keefe said. The two defendants have separate juries and verdicts.
The trial will resume on Monday at 8:30 a.m. To learn what happened in the first week of the trial, read previous articles here.