Cal Poly student Kristin Smart died as Paul Flores attempted to rape her in his dorm room, prosecutors alleged April 14 in announcing a first-degree murder charge against the prime suspect.
"The allegation is that he was committing rape or attempting to commit a rape," said District Attorney Dan Dow, who explained the basis for seeking a first-degree murder conviction. The statute of limitations for rape has expired, he added.
Additionally, Dow said during his press conference April 14 that his office has evidence that Flores, 44, may have sexual assault victims in the Southern California region, where he had frequented bars in San Pedro and Los Angeles since 2005.
Evidence of other sexual assaults potentially could be used in a trial against Flores, who was arrested at his San Pedro home on April 13 and booked into the San Luis Obispo County Main Jail without bail.
Dow said he believes investigators have evidence pointing to the location where Smart's body was taken after she died as well as "significant" new evidence produced over the last year.
Ruben Flores, 80, also was charged April 14 as an accessory to Smart's murder. Dow said he believes Smart's body was taken from Flores' dorm room and that Ruben helped his son conceal the body. He remains at the Main Jail with bail set at $250,000, although Dow said his office may ask for a higher bail.
Flores' mother, Susan, has not been arrested, according to Dow.
Both Paul and Ruben Flores are scheduled to appear for arraignments at 8:30 a.m. Thursday in Department 3 of San Luis Obispo Superior Court, where the hearing will be livestreamed. Limited public seating will be available inside the courtroom, according to officials.
Dow expressed concern over some trial issues, including the possibility of faded eyewitness memories after 25 years, but discounted any worries about an impartial jury or trying a murder case without a body.
"No-body homicides are no doubt complicated, but they are no less important," Dow said, adding that such cases have been successfully tried in the past. "The criminal justice system is continuous, it plods along."
When questioned about a plea deal in exchange for information about Smart's body, Dow said comment was premature.
On April 13, a search warrant was served at Ruben's home in the 700 block of White Court in Arroyo Grande, where investigators used heavy equipment that resulted in grinding and hammering sounds. That search concluded at 5 p.m., with no new information released. Investigators resumed their operations on April 14, finishing about midday.
During a press conference April 13 at Cal Poly, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said that the investigation has revealed items of "value" that were linked to Smart in at least two separate locations, but he did not say what they were. Parkinson believes law enforcement is closer to finding Smart's body.
Anyone with additional information in the Smart case or any potential crimes committed by Flores is asked to contact SLO County Crime Stoppers at 805-549-7867 or go to www.slotips.org.