The juries of the People v. Flores murder trial heard testimonies on Wednesday that raised the question of Kristin Smart being drugged, exposed the delay of local police and revealed a comment Paul Flores made to his roommate after Smart disappeared.
Paul Flores, 45, is being charged with the 1996 murder of Kristin Smart. His father, 81-year-old Ruben Flores is charged with accessory to murder after the fact. Smart and Paul Flores were both Cal Poly freshmen when he told their peers he’d walk her home from an off-campus party Memorial Day weekend. Smart was reported missing soon after.
Wednesday’s hearing began with a continuation of former student Trevor Boelter’s testimony, which began on Tuesday.
Prior to the party on Crandall Way during Memorial Day weekend, Boelter said he had never met Kristin Smart. That night, Smart briefly introduced herself as ‘Roxie,’ grabbed Boelter by the hand, kissed him, then led him into the bathroom.
In the bathroom, Smart asked Boelter if he thought she was ugly. Then, Smart asked Boelter if given a choice, “would you fuck Ross [Ketchum],” or another man at the party, whose name Boelter did not remember. Boelter replied, jokingly, saying he would choose himself. Smart rolled her eyes at the answer. After she asked the question again, Boelter replied “I guess I’d pick [Ketchum].”
Recalling that moment with Smart, Boelter said he did not smell any alcohol on her and that he didn’t see her drinking. However, he said he “wasn’t monitoring” her drinking.
“She definitely acted like something was going on with her,” Boelter said.
Boelter left the bathroom when Smart said she had to use it. As he left the bathroom, Boelter said “this guy showed up” very “matter-of-factly” and said, “What I’d like to know is what you did with her in the bathroom.”
“Nothing,” Boelter said, laughing. The man laughed too, and Boelter walked back to his friend who was at the party. Boelter then told Ketchum, “I think she likes you, Ross.”
At the time, Boelter thought it was Smart’s boyfriend that confronted him outside of the bathroom.
It was Paul Flores, Boelter testified on Wednesday.
Throughout the party, Boelter encountered Smart multiple times and would “keep an eye on her.” He said he thought she was “very attractive” and “goofy.” However, he said he did not see when she fell later on in the party, as he “wasn’t watching her like a hawk.”
During the party, Smart was approached by another partygoer trying to converse with her. Boelter noticed she was uncomfortable and approached Smart, scaring the guy away. Boelter confirmed that this person was not Paul Flores.
“I thought that guy was gonna rape me,” Smart told Boelter.
Later in the evening, the two spoke again. Smart walked over to Boelter, appearing “really upset” and wanting to talk to him. Smart then led him to the backyard and told him, “I look like an idiot to Ross, Ross hates me.”
To comfort her, Boelter switched topics and asked Smart what her astrological sign was. The two then bonded over the fact that they shared a birthday, along with Kurt Cobain.
Boelter said that Smart “didn’t seem drunk” but rather “druggy.”
Smart kissed Boelter again, but Boelter described this kiss as “uncomfortable” and “desperate.” Boelter then pushed Smart back, upsetting her. Smart turned away and walked “stumbly” back into the house.
“That was the last time I saw her,” Boelter said.
Boelter said that he left the party shortly after midnight, stopped by someone’s house and then the donut shop before returning home and in bed before 1 a.m.
Paul Flores’ defense attorney, Robert Sanger, questioned how Boelter knew that the man he encountered outside the bathroom was Paul Flores. Boelter saw a newspaper picture of Paul Flores in The Mustang Daily, now known as Mustang News. Boelter said he had “only seen grainy pictures of Paul” but remembered his “big blue eyes.”
He said he did not know who Flores was until he learned that Flores attended the same party after news broke about Smart’s disappearance. In a law enforcement interview in 2005, Boelter said he was “95%” sure. Now, in court on Wednesday, Boelter confirmed it was Flores.
A few months after Smart’s disappearance, in July 1996, Boelter was interviewed by the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department. In this interview, Boelter said that he went over the basic interactions and what happened in the bathroom but “toned down” some of the events to be kinder to Smart, specifically referring to the comments she had made about Ketchum in the bathroom.
In November 1997, Boelter was then interviewed by a private investigator for the Smart family. According to Boelter, this was “not a pleasant encounter,” as he thought he was a suspect.
When Sanger showed him the transcript of the interview, Boelter said the investigator got many things wrong, for example claiming that his friend at the party was an exchange student from Australia.
“It’s just wildly inaccurate,” Boelter said.
Boelter’s hunch that he was a suspect continued with him in 2004. A man, Dennis Mahon, had called Boelter and asked him about his encounter with Smart, so he emailed all the details he could remember to him. Boelter said he “never quite understood” Mahon’s motivation; he never identified himself as a private investigator, but he said he was trying to find Smart.
Sanger presented Boelter with the email he sent to Mahon in 2004. In the email, Boelter wrote about how it plagued him that he didn’t remember if the man who asked about Smart outside of the bathroom was Paul Flores or not.
On Wednesday, Peuvrelle asked Boelter if he was “100% sure” that the man he saw outside the bathroom was Paul Flores.
“Yes,” Boelter said.
At the party, Boelter does not remember Smart being “over every guy in the house,” as Sanger asked. Boelter said that as the years went on, he felt he should’ve paid more attention to her.
The possibility that Smart was drugged first crossed Boelter’s mind in 2012, as he previously assumed it was just alcohol. Boelter was roofied that year, citing a “wild feeling,” where he was really social and wanted to dance. Eventually he felt sick, passed out and his friends carried him out.
He said when he reflects on his experience being drugged, it reminds him of Smart’s behavior that night.
Sanger objected to Peuvrelle’s question on whether Smart seemed like she had been roofied.
Boelter does not remember seeing any drugs at the party or seeing Smart become unconscious, Sanger confirmed.
Former student recounts the struggle of reporting Smart’s disappearance. ‘People do things like this all the time,’ police said.
Another witness, Jennifer Medeiros, was called to the stand. Medeiros lived across the hall from Smart and Crystal Calvin in Muir Hall. She thinks the last time she saw Smart was the Thursday or Friday before Memorial Day weekend.
Medeiros said she “was not a close friend” of Smart’s” but she lived across from her and was friends with her roommate, Crystal Calvin.
Medeiros, Calvin and Margarita Campos talked over the weekend about Smart’s absence.
“We all became aware she hadn’t come home,” Medeiros said. They were “concerned about where she was.”
“She was a person that we knew and cared about, and it’s not normal for people to not come home,” Medeiros said.
Medeiros attempted to call the police to report that Smart was missing — but she was told that “because I lived on campus, it was a campus matter.”
She then contacted Cal Poly Police. However, due to the fact that it was Memorial Day weekend, campus police showed little concern, saying “people do things like this all the time.” Medeiros was then instructed to call the campus police on Tuesday if Smart was still missing.
Medeiros said that she felt this situation was a “bigger deal” and warranted for local police. So, she “repeatedly” called the police. On the Monday of the 1996 Memorial Day weekend, Medeiros called both the San Luis Obispo Police Department and campus police.
Medeiros, crying, said her concern “elevated every day” and a “sick feeling and feeling of helplessness grew each day.”
After attending a Tuesday class that she and Smart were enrolled in together, Medeiros called again. And finally, according to Medeiros, sometime in the morning, maybe around 10 a.m., she was able to file a police report.
According to Sanger, San Luis Obispo Police Lt. Robert Cudworth went to the dorms on May 31 — three days after Medeiros filed a police report.
“I remember that it felt like it took a really long time for him to come out,” Medeiros said.
Flores’ former roommate reveals their conversation about Smart’s disappearance
Derrick Tse transferred to Cal Poly as a junior during the fall of 1996. During the first half of the academic year, Tse had a roommate whose name he didn’t remember during his testimony on Wednesday. Around December, a different roommate moved in: Paul Flores.
For the 1996 Memorial Day weekend, Tse shared with Flores before Friday night that he would go back home to Oakland.
Tse returned from Oakland late afternoon on Tuesday, around 5 p.m., and didn’t see Flores until “later on in the evening.” Tse also noted that when he returned he didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, including any unusual odors.
However, he did not inspect Flores’ side of the room.
After he returned, Tse said he heard other people discussing Smart’s disappearance. Hearing from his neighbors that Flores was the last person to see Smart, Tse initiated a conversation with Flores about Smart.
“He said that he saw [Smart] at a party and after the party she went missing, and he was the last person to see her,” Tse said.
Tse joked to Flores, “You probably did something, you know, with her.”
“Yeah, she’s at my house eating lunch with my mom,” Flores said.
After recalling this in court on Wednesday, a wave of tension fell over the room.
Tse described a “pretty serious” demeanor in Flores’ response. Tse added that Flores made direct eye contact with him as he said it.
On the Tuesday after Memorial Day weekend, Tse said that he noticed a change in Flores’ behavior.
“He was just a little more serious because of all the rumors going around,” Tse said.
Tse did not join Flores at parties and never saw him drink. However, Tse said that he had seen Flores after drinking, describing him as “pretty active” and “loud.” Tse included that Flores was more outgoing and talked more when he drank. However, Peuvrelle referenced a 1996 report showing Tse saying that Flores would be “really aggressive” and “confrontational with other people.”
Tse also mentioned that he does not remember Flores going to his father’s house during the Memorial Day weekend.
Jurors can pass questions on to attorneys to ask during cross examinations. One such question was about Tse’s and Flores’ dorm room windows. Tse said their window could only swing out a “couple of feet.”
During cross examination, Sanger showed Tse pictures of the dorm room, pointing out that they had sliding windows, where someone could “easily come in and out” of the room.
James Camp, a Sheriff’s Department Deputy in 1996, will take the stand again Thursday at 10:30 a.m.