The trial against Paul and Ruben Flores for the murder of Kristin Smart continues in Salinas with more witness testimonies. Mario Garcia, who used to play pool with Paul Flores, testifies. Credit: Laura Dickinson | The San Luis Obispo Tribune

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.

Mario Garcia was a third-year transfer student enrolled at Cal Poly in 1995. He lived on campus and knew Paul Flores, as the two would play pool together in Flores’ common room.

Following the 1996 Memorial Day weekend, Garcia said he remembers Paul Flores having a bruise under his eye, which he attempted to conceal with a baseball cap.

The cap was pulled down in an unnatural and noticeable way to Garcia. Paul Flores told him that somebody had pushed him at a party, though he did not elaborate beyond that.

“He seemed kind of nervous, like, edgy,” Garcia said. “He’s normally pretty outgoing.”

The People v. Flores murder trial resumed Thursday with Garcia’s testimony. 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. 

Friend who last saw Smart night before she went missing testifies

Felipe Arias, a freshman in 1996, “was a close friend” of Kristin Smart. On at least two occasions, Smart spent the night in Arias’ dorm. Smart would sleep on the couch and in his bed, according to a previous FBI interview. Smart would also go to Arias’ dorm often when she was having trouble with her roommate, Crystal Calvin. Arias said she had left lip gloss, sandals and a CD at his dorm.

The last time Arias said he saw Smart was the Thursday before Memorial Day. He said Smart stayed over at his dorm on the night of May 22 or May 23. Arias said he does not know if Smart tried to contact him the night she went missing, or if she had knocked on his door.

Prosecution presents Flores’ Family DMV documents, sparks contention from defense 

San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office Senior Investigator James “JT” Camp returned to the stand Thursday to review past California DMV documents with San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle, representing the prosecution. 

Camp said that Paul Flores’ and Susan Flores’ addresses were “within about a mile” of each other. 

Ruben Flores’ documents showed that he’d lived in 710 White Ct. in Arroyo Grande since at least 1994, and that he had shrunk an inch between 2008 and 2022.

When Peuvrelle was about to show the documents of Paul’s sister, Linda Flores, Paul’s defense attorney, Robert Sanger, objected to presenting the information. The attorneys discussed the matter privately with Judge Jennifer O’Keefe. When they returned, Peuvrelle said the only thing that should be redacted on the documents is the driver’s license number. 

Sanger insisted on objecting to the entire document. Defense attorney Harold Mesick, representing Ruben Flores, then said to redact his driver’s license number, too. The court took a 15-minute recess, then continued proceedings with Paul Flores’ DMV documents. 

Paul Flores’ documents showed that his address was listed as 710 White Ct. until at least 2003, after which he changed addresses at least twice.

Sanger established in front of the court that the place somebody lives isn’t always necessarily reflected on their driver’s license, such as when Paul Flores lived at Cal Poly but still had his father’s residence listed on his official DMV documents.

Peuvrelle said he would likely call Camp to testify again next week.

The trial will resume Monday morning at 8:30 a.m.