Paul Flores, Kristin Smart’s killer, was sentenced Friday to 25 years in prison — more than 25 years after her murder.
Judge Jennifer O’Keefe told him, “Mr. Flores, you have been a cancer to society.”
“For 25 years you lived freely in the community” and continued to drug and assault women, she said, according to the San Luis Obispo Grandstand.
Smart and Flores were both students at California Polytech University in San Luis Obispo when she disappeared in 1996. The case went unsolved for decades, but a 2020 true crime podcast shocked local law enforcement.
Flores, now 46, was arrested as a result. Although the police never found her remains, they believe Flores raped her in his dorm room and then killed her.
Paul Flores is seen in court in Salinas, California on Friday for his sentencing
Flores can be seen in an interview at the time of Smart’s disappearance
Freshman Kristin Smart disappeared in 1996 after a college party in California — and the prime suspect was found guilty after a crime podcast helped solve the case
“This predatory behavior has spanned your adult life.
“You deserve to spend the day behind bars.”
Flores was ordered to pay a total of $10,000 in restitution to his victims. He must also register as a sex offender for life, as he attacked and killed Smart for “the purpose of sexual gratification and sexual coercion,” O’Keefe said.
Smart’s brother Matthew told the court that Flores was “a threat to society.”
“Paul chose to take a life, my sister Kristin’s life, a beautiful life,” he said.
“And now he has to pay.”
Prosecutor Chris Peuvrelle told the court that Flores was “a real psychopath.”
He noted that Flores “still maintains his innocence…but we know he’s lying.”
He added, “Paul Flores is a real psychopath” who “takes perverse pleasure in raping women.”
“He killed Kristin without remorse.
“Kristin’s family will never see her again.”
He and his father, Ruben, were both charged in connection with her death. Prosecutors say Ruben helped his son by hiding Smart’s body under their backyard patio for years.
Flores is shown in an unrelated 1996 arrest photo, when he was 19. He was convicted of Smart’s murder in 2022 and his hearing was on Friday
Flores is seen in court in July 2022 in the Monterey County courtroom in Salinas
The pair are suspected of moving her remains as suspicion began to grow in 2020.
Flores was found guilty of murder last October.
The trial took place in Salinas, Monterey County, about 110 miles north of San Luis Obispo, after the defense argued that the notoriety of the case prevented Flores and his father from getting a fair trial in their own district.
A jury found Flores guilty of first-degree murder in October. A separate jury acquitted 81-year-old Ruben Flores of complicity.
During Paul Flores’ trial, attorney Robert Sanger tried to pin the murder on someone else.
Sanger noticed Scott Petersonwho was later convicted in a sensational trial of the murder of his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying was also a student on campus, about 200 miles off the coast of Los Angeles.
Sanger filed motions in Monterey County Superior Court on February 24 asking that the charges be dismissed and his client acquitted. A motion also seeks a new trial.
Sanger disputed forensic evidence presented by the prosecution. He argued that Flores’ right to due process had been violated because of errors in the prosecution and “the admission of junk science as evidence.”
“There’s a reason there hasn’t been a case against Paul Flores in 25 years,” the motion said.
“There was no evidence of a murder or that Paul Flores committed it.”
The San Luis Obispo County District Attorney asked the court to deny those requests, arguing that “the allegations of wrongdoing are baseless and the allegations of misconduct are false.”