A retired investigator on Friday testified about two interviews he had with Paul Flores 25 years ago, recalling the version of events given to him immediately surrounding the May 25, 1996, disappearance of 19-year-old Cal Poly freshman Kristin Smart.
Bill Hanley, a retired chief investigator with the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office, took the stand in Superior Court and in a raspy voice, recounted what Paul Flores told him on May 31 and June 19 that year.
Flores answered questions about the party at 135 Crandall Way, the walk back with Smart to their dorms and what he did after she disappeared, Hanley said. In the first interview, Hanley asked Flores if he thought Smart was alive or dead. By this time, Smart had been missing for a week.
“I think she’s dead,” Flores said, according to Hanley.
A judge on Monday approved a two-day pause in the preliminary hearing for Paul and Ruben Flores, who are charged in the death and disappearance of Kristin Smart in 1996.
Paul Flores, 44, of San Pedro is charged with the murder of Smart. His father, 80-year-old Ruben Flores, of Arroyo Grande, is charged with accessory to murder after the fact and is accused of hiding Smart’s body.
Smart’s body has never been found and she was declared legally dead in 2002.
Paul and Ruben Flores were arrested and charged in April following a series of search warrants served on their homes. They both have pleaded not guilty.
A preliminary hearing for the defendants began on Aug. 2 and has included more than a dozen witnesses, including Smart’s parents, former students, police investigators and a K-9 handler whose cadaver dogs searched Paul Flores’ Santa Lucia Hall dorm room.
At least two witnesses testified seeing Paul Flores with Smart on the walk back to their dorms, including Cheryl Anderson, a former student who saw the pair at the corner of Perimeter Road and Grand Avenue at about 2 a.m., just steps from their red brick dorms.
During Friday's hearing, Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle attempted to introduce items allegedly seized from Paul Flores’ residence during a recent search of his San Pedro home, including rape-fetish pornography found on a computer and date-rape drugs. He combined it with witness statements about Paul Flores’ alleged past behavior with females in an attempt to show that he had a propensity to commit sexual assault and intended to rape Smart.
During an April 14 press conference, District Attorney Dan Dow accused Paul Flores of killing Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room, but declined to add the charge because the statute of limitations expired.
Bob Sanger, Flores’ attorney, objected, and Judge Craig Van Rooyen denied Peuvrelle’s motion, saying that he wasn’t ruling whether or not there was a rape, but said there would be an “undue risk” the evidence would “outweigh the probative value” of the hearing.
After the judge’s ruling, Hanley took the stand to describe his two interviews with Flores.
Paul Flores said he had “no problem” answering questions and met with DA investigators Hanley and Larry Hobson for an interview inside an unmarked police vehicle.
He described his activities leading up to the Crandall Way party, the walk back and what happened once Anderson split from Paul Flores and Smart after reaching the intersection near the dorms, according to Hanley.
Hanley recalled that Paul Flores said he and an intoxicated Smart walked a short distance down Perimeter Road towards his dorm when he parted ways with her near Sequoia Hall before walking alone to his dorm room.
Following up less than three weeks later, Hanley met with Flores at his Arroyo Grande home. Flores volunteered for the second interview at the local police station, according to Hanley.
A portion of the video-taped second interview with Paul Flores was played in court.
A back-and-forth ensued between Sanger and Peuvrelle over whether the investigators violated Paul Flores’ civil rights in the second interview, with Sanger arguing that his client wasn’t allowed to leave and wasn’t given a Miranda warning.
In the first interview, Paul Flores agreed to take a polygraph, but later declined the offer during the second interview, according to Hanley.
Sanger said the polygraph is not “evidence of anything,” and the judge sustained his objection.
Harold Mesick, Ruben Flores’ attorney, asked Hanley if Paul Flores was cooperative at every stage of his investigation. Hanley paused before answering.
“He answered our questions,” Hanley responded.
The preliminary hearing continues Monday at 9 p.m. in Department 5 of Superior Court.
This story has been updated to include the correct date of the disappearance of Kristin Smart.