A witness who testified that Paul Flores admitted to killing and burying Kristin Smart continued her testimony in court on Monday, recounting why she went to the police 23 years later.
Paul Flores is being charged with Smart’s murder and his father is being charged with accessory to murder. Kristin Smart disappeared in 1996, when her and Paul Flores were both Cal Poly freshmen.
Jennifer Hudson, a San Luis Obispo local, has testified that, at a gathering in the summer of 1996, Paul Flores said he was “done playing with” Smart and that he buried her under his skate ramp in Huasna, a town in San Luis Obispo County.
About two weeks later, Hudson drove out to a skate ramp while following a white pickup truck in Huasna to drop off some friends, which she later said she realized was the same place that Paul Flores referred to in his statement from their first interaction.
Once she arrived, she saw Paul Flores getting out of the white pickup and Hudson said she left immediately after realizing that he was the same person who admitted to Smart’s murder a few weeks prior, adding that she vomited on her shoes.
Hudson maintained throughout both of her testimonies on Thursday and Monday that she did not know who Paul Flores was when she drove to the ramp, and that she was only driving the individuals there because they wanted a ride.
However, Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger, established on Thursday that the people who Hudson drove to the ramp said they were going to meet somebody named “Paul.”
On Monday, Hudson elaborated on this interaction with him, saying that she regretted not notifying police of what Flores told her.
Hudson only ever told one person about the interaction– Justin Goodwin, a former roommate, in 2002 when they were “very drunk.”
On Monday, Sanger showed Hudson screenshots of conversations between herself and Goodwin from October and November 2019, where they discussed Hudson’s encounter with Flores.
“It’s been a minute since we talked about it but do you remember us talking one time about Paul Flores,” Goodwin said in a Facebook message to Hudson on Oct. 29.
In 2004, Goodwin submitted a tip to both the FBI and to Dennis Mahon’s Dig Up The Yard website, which is dedicated to finding Smart’s body. Goodwin said he also submitted a tip to the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department in 2019. This anonymous tip was mentioned on the “Your Own Backyard” podcast by creator Chris Lambert.
When Goodwin reached out to Hudson, he asked her to talk with Lambert about Paul Flores admitting to Smart’s murder.
“This is all ‘cause we got drunk and talked shit about Paul one night,” Hudson said in a text message to Goodwin.
Hudson eventually met with Detective Clint Cole from the SLO Sheriff’s Department in person on Nov. 18, 2019.
About a week and a half prior to that, Hudson met with Lambert along with Goodwin and a Century 21 real estate agent at the location of where Hudson saw Flores get out of his pickup truck in Huasna. On Thursday, she said she was unaware that other people would be with Lambert when meeting him.
Hudson said on Thursday that, when she met with Detective Cole on Nov. 18, she was instructed by Lambert to “not to tell [Detective Cole] about some things.”
“I was under the impression… that everything Lambert… was learning was going to the Sheriff’s Office,” Hudson testified.
One particular case involved Lambert obtaining drone footage in 2019 of a white truck that could have belonged to the Flores’ in the area that Hudson saw him getting out of the white pickup in 1996.
Sanger said that the Flores did not own property there and that the white truck in the footage did not belong to the Flores family, although Hudson was not able to personally speak to it since she never saw the footage.
According to Hudson, Lambert did not want her to share this information with police. Despite this, Hudson told Detective Cole.
Hudson testified on Monday that she was not under any influences during her encounters with Flores, testifying that she only had one beer.
Hudson said she had been using methamphetamine for about eight to 10 months before she met Paul Flores on the night that she said he confessed to burying Smart, but maintained that she was not on drugs either time that she saw him because she was driving.
She added that she “never did meth again” after the interaction with Paul Flores, referring to it as a “reality check.”
During cross examination, Hudson also told Sanger that she reached out to a friend out of concern for her security when she went to the police in 2019.
Hudson was told that Paul Flores was in the area, so she called a friend who assigned people to keep watch on a few places around Huasna, including Paul Flores’ mother’s house.
“You called somebody who was in a motorcycle gang who could assign prospects to stalk people out,” Sanger said.
Hudson did not confirm that her friend was in a motorcycle gang, and told Sanger that she only made a call to a friend because she “was afraid that [Paul Flores] or his family was gonna come after me.”
During prosecutor Christopher Peuvrelle’s re-direct examination, Peuvrelle asked about the delay in Hudson talking to police about her experience with Flores.
“You mentioned you feel responsible for the misery of the Smart family,” Peuvrelle said.
“If I was not a coward, I would have come forward then,” Hudson said, crying.
While no one said anything to law enforcement at the time, Hudson said that a friend called out Flores’ behavior on the night that he allegedly confessed to the murder.
Hudson said that her friend, Randy ‘Red,’ noticed Hudson’s scared reaction to Flores’ remark about burying Smart.
“Paul, you’re full of shit,” he responded.
Despite efforts from the police, no one was able to find or contact this individual.
Hudson continued crying while testifying, motioning and saying that when she spoke to Chris Lambert for a podcast, she was crying as well.
“All this time you didn’t contact law enforcement until you had this ongoing conversation with Justin Goodwin and Chris Lambert,” Sanger said.
“Correct,” Hudson said.
In the message exchanges between Hudson and Goodwin, Goodwin mentioned a thought of Paul Flores killing himself. Hudson replied, saying “that would be ideal.” Sanger used this as an example of Hudson seemingly making several jokes about the situation.
“I wasn’t joking,” Hudson said.
Goodwin was next called to the stand to testify, establishing the relationship he had with Hudson. He met Hudson in 1998, when Hudson worked with his sister.
Their relationship was described as sibling-like, with Goodwin saying that Hudson “became kinda like another sister to me” over the course of a year and the two were friends for about five years.
In 2002, Hudson told Goodwin about what Flores told her. She requested that he didn’t tell anyone, Goodwin recalled on Monday. “She seemed scared… scared to give more details like I might go and say something about it.”
Once Hudson moved away, he gave a tip to the FBI in 2004. He was worried that after he told law enforcement that she would be upset with him.
“Surprisingly, she wasn’t angry and seemed like she was happy to corroborate… I was worried that she’d be scared to speak to law enforcement,” said Goodwin, echoing what Hudson testified earlier, that she was afraid of talking to law enforcement for most of her life.
During his cross examination, Sanger noted that Goodwin’s tip to Mahon from 2004 stated that Hudson used to “stay up all night doing meth” with Paul Flores.
Hudson denied this earlier in her testimony, and Goodwin clarified that “[Hudson] never said she did meth with Paul — she said Paul did meth.”
Sanger later said that no one ever told Goodwin that Paul Flores did meth, although Goodwin was not able to personally speak to Paul Flores’ drug habits.
“The fact was that Jennifer heard Paul say that he buried Kristin,” Goodwin said.
The next witness called to the stand was Angela Butler, a forensic DNA analyst. She has also been a member of the California Association of Criminalists since 2002.
According to previous witness testimony, detectives sent evidence from Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande home to the lab Butler worked at in 2019.
Noting Butler’s extensive work on DNA and fluid identification, Judge Jennifer O’Keefe designated her as an expert in her field upon Peuvrelle’s request. Butler’s testimony will resume at the next hearing.
The trial was scheduled to resume Tuesday morning, but an email sent by the Monterey County Superior Court wrote that court would be delayed until Monday at 8:30 a.m.