The trial of Paul and Ruben Flores for the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart resumed Monday morning with testimonies from an investigator, Smart’s former roommate and a friend.
One member of Ruben Flores’ jury was not present, so an alternate was selected and sworn in, presiding Judge Jennifer O’Keefe announced at the beginning of the trial.
Judge O’Keefe reminded the jurors at the end of the hearing that they cannot talk about the case with anyone and should not view any media or conduct external research. If someone attempts to discuss the case, O’Keefe told the jurors to “please end the conversation.”
The trial began with the cross examination of Assistant Chief Investigator James “JT” Camp, who was a San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Deputy at the time of Smart’s disappearance.
Camp lived in the Sequoia and Fremont halls in the Red Bricks when he was a Cal Poly student until 1995. He previously was a Senior Investigator for the DA and worked on the human trafficking team since 2012.
San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle spent the better part of his cross examination with Camp discussing several images of 135 Crandall Way — the location of the party Smart attended before she disappeared.
Camp had visited the house twice in July 2021 to take photos of it, which were shown to the jury on Monday.
According to Camp, as of July 2021, the home had both a front and back entrance, as well as an added section that was not originally part of the house in 1996.
Camp has also returned to the dorms “infrequently” since the Smart case, including once in 2021for a follow-up. According to Camp, the buildings are “virtually the same” since he attended.
Behind Paul Flores’ dorm, Camp said there is a “makeshift parking access road” where he and Peuvrelle established the possibility that a car could drive down Perimeter Road and turn into this access road.
Camp was also presented with a map of the area and was asked to describe the route Smart likely took to get back to the dorms from the Crandall house. Two students found Smart lying down outside the house and, joined by Flores, began to walk her back to campus.
Camp said it’s “an uphill walk pretty much the entire way” and with his uninterrupted pace, it took him about eight minutes and 35 seconds.
Camp agreed that the route marked on the map by others is “likely” the path Smart took. But he said it also “depends which side of the building you live on.”
Paul Flores’ defense attorney Robert Sanger accused Camp of assisting Peuvrelle in his theory that is supported by Tim Davis. Davis and Cheryl Manzer were the other students who walked Smart back to campus. They both said Davis was first to leave the group because he lived in the opposite direction of them.
Sanger also questioned Camp on the construction site of Cal Poly’s Performing Arts Center (PAC). The PAC was being built around this time, with it opening in September 1996. Sanger asked Camp if he investigated “potential sites where the body might have been taken,” and then asked if he investigated the Performing Arts Center. The prosecution objected to both of these questions.
Roommate says Kristin Smart’s disappearance was ‘unusual’ and ‘out of character’
Crystal Teschendorf, formerly Crystal Calvin, lived in Muir Hall with Smart, becoming roommates in February of 1996.
Teschendorf said that she and Smart “did not get to know each other very well” as they didn’t share the same major or friends.
During Memorial Day weekend, Teschendorf’s friend, Jana Schrock, visited for the weekend, arriving in San Luis Obispo on Friday, May 24.
According to Teschendorf, she and Schrock parted ways from Margarita Campos and Kristin that night. Teschendorf met with her boyfriend, Dustin, and his friend, Ted Munley, who “came all the time” to the dorm.
Sometime around 8 p.m., Teschendorf said they parted ways and remembered Kristin in a good mood with red pumas, surfer-type shorts and a gray t-shirt. This was the last time Teschendorf saw Kristin.
When Teschendorf returned to the room, she “noticed nothing was moved.” Kristin’s keys, ID and red backpack that “she took everywhere” were still there.
Teschendorf and Schrock went to parties that night but did not attend the party on Crandall Way. Returning from a party around midnight, Teschendorf said she took some of her belongings and stayed in her boyfriend’s dorm in Fremont Hall. Meanwhile, Schrock slept on Teschendorf’s bed in her and Smart’s room.
The following morning, Teschendorf woke up around 10 a.m. and returned to Muir Hall about 30 minutes after waking up. She said she and Schrock had not seen Kristin since the previous night. Teschendorf said that “the red backpack and her set of keys” were still in the room, untouched.
According to Teschendorf, it was “unusual” for Smart to not let her know if she wasn’t going to spend the night at their dorm.
Teschendorf said she, Campos and other girls in the hall noticed Smart was not around.
“We had talked about possible scenarios of why she would not have come back to the dorms,” Teschendorf said. “We kind of thought it was unusual.”
As time went on, these reasons why Smart was missing started to feel “less likely,” she said.
On Sunday, May 26, Teschendorf, Schrock and three others called law enforcement with no response. The following Tuesday, Teschendorf said she had “very, very high” concern.
With four nights passing without Smart in the dorm, it was “very out of character for her” and Teschendorf said that she “had never done anything like that when she lived in the dorms” with her. The next weekend, Teschendorf said she was in their dorm for most of the time and did not see a sign of her.
Getting ready before the party, “nobody had any alcohol,” Teschendorf said. There were “many” parties during Memorial Day weekend, with Teschendorf leaving before Smart did.
“Do you know if Ted Munley came back to your room during the night?” Sanger asked.
“No,” Teschendorf responded.
Teschendorf said she does not recall seeing Paul Flores around Kristin Smart and does not know if Smart would go to the RA if she ever forgot her key. In an interview with a detective in 1996, she said that “normally Kristin forgot her key and would have to have the RA let her in.” Margarita Campos, Smart’s friend, testified last week that she gave Smart her key before they parted ways Friday night.
Although Teschendorf and Smart were not very close, Teschendorf maintained that she would not be gone all night usually. There were times that she stayed out, but “I always knew that she was going to be gone,” Teschendorf said.
When Teschendorf was with her boyfriend in their room, sometimes Smart would go elsewhere, Teschendorf said. Sanger then repeatedly implied the scenario of sex between Teschendorf and her boyfriend and where Smart was, but this was objected to and sustained three times.
Teschendorf said that sometimes Smart would stay and sometimes she would go when Teschendorf’s boyfriend was over. Before the party, Teschendorf and Schrock made sleeping arrangements for Schrock to sleep on Teschendorf’s bed, but Smart was not included in this conversation.
Friend testifies about Smart’s and Flores’ interactions
Another freshman at Cal Poly, Steven Fleming, lived in Muir Hall on the third floor. A basketball player himself, he said he was drawn to Kristin for how tall she was, thinking she played sports as well.
The two talked “a lot,” Fleming said. They shared a class, and Smart would attend some of his basketball games. Fleming said Smart had an open and kind personality.
“She was just lively,” Fleming said. “That was the good thing about her, she was alive.”
In the Muir Hall common area, Fleming said he saw Paul Flores on occasion, “following Kristin.” Other girls had told Fleming that Paul “made them nervous” and that he was “kinda weird.”
Fleming recalled returning to Muir Hall after midnight one night and seeing Flores in the common area, even though he didn’t live there. He also saw Flores on the second and third floor on occasion.
“He was just sitting there,” Fleming said. “It was odd, like, ‘you don’t live in this dorm.’”
Another time when Fleming was on his way to basketball practice, he was getting his laundry when he again noticed Flores — this time in Smart’s room, with her door open. Smart was at the desk while Flores was standing a few feet inside the doorway, Fleming said.
“Kristin was very uncomfortable… she did not want him in there,” Fleming said.
Kristin’s body language looked uneasy to Fleming, who said she was “not okay” with him being in her room.
“It wasn’t Kristin — if you knew her and you were a friend, you’d get this big grin,” Fleming said.
In a previous interview with the FBI, Fleming said he thought that Flores and Smart were dating. He knew of Flores from seeing him around school and from other women who had said he made them uncomfortable, before Smart’s disappearance.
Sanger told Fleming that these comments came after Paul Flores had been identified in connection to Smart’s disappearance, but Fleming maintained that girls around the dorm had made those comments to him before she went missing.
The trial will resume Tuesday at 10:30 a.m.