Kristin Smart, a 19 year old girl and a student of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly), who went missing on 25 May 1996 was declared legally dead on 25 May 2002. She is presumed to have been abducted, raped and murdered at the end of her freshmen year at Cal Poly.
Paul Flores, who was also a student of Cal Poly had been the prime suspect for the murder of Smart because according to witnesses, Smart was last seen with him. But since Smart’s body has never been found and due to lack of evidence he never got arrested.
The case was reopened in 2019 after a witness named Jennifer Hudson gave a statement that she heard Flores bragging about killing Smart and burying her under his skate ramp back in the summer of 1996, months after Smart disappeared. Jennifer Hudson was one of Flores’ skating friends.
Experts investigated the scene behind Ruben Flores (Paul Flore’s Father) home after investigators got a search warrant for the premises in March 2021. Investigators found an area of disturbed soil behind the home, and testing of different sections of the soil yielded positive results for the presence of human blood.
Paul Flores, 45-year-old has been charged with Kristin Smart’s murder and Ruben Flores, 80 years old has been charged with being an accessory after the fact for allegedly helping keep Smart’s remains hidden all these years.
Previous witness testimony indicates that detectives with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff’s Department sent evidence to Seri Lab in 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022, some of which they collected from Ruben Flores’ home in Arroyo Grande, at 710 White Ct.
The trial for Paul and Ruben Flores continued on 19 September 2022 with testimony from a forensic DNA analyst who confirmed the presence of human blood in soil samples from the Flores’ property. The hearing began with testimony from Angela Butler, a senior forensic DNA analyst and Laboratory Supervisor at Seri Lab assigned to the Kristin Smart case.
Butler testified that she received two soil samples from the Sheriff’s Office in March of 2021, one labelled “Upper Soil Sample” and another labelled “Deeper Soil Sample,” both presumably from Ruben Flores’ property.
Butler said she sorted through the samples to find pieces that look “unusual.” She described the “unusual” pieces to be fibres of various colors. Butler also explained that she performed a confirmatory test for blood on the soil sample.
The test she conducted was the HemDirect test which confirms the presence of hemoglobin in human, primate and ferrate blood. The test confirmed three positive results, two weak positive results and one negative result.
Butler then attempted to extract DNA from the two soil samples, but said that “there was no DNA present in any of the samples,”. She also said that she can’t explain the reason why there was no DNA in the sample.
Butler also received a piece of plywood for testing from the SLO Sheriff’s Department, which came from Mike McConville’s (Flore’s boyfriend) pickup truck. Butler said that she found a very small area in the plywood, less than the size of a dime, that “gave an indication for the presumptive test for blood” when she examined it.
Because she didn’t want to risk wasting the sample for the confirmatory blood test, Butler instead made the decision to swab it for DNA. The DNA results excluded Kristin Smart, Paul Flores and Ruben Flores from the sample, indicating that the DNA was not theirs. The DNA sample was found to be of McConville.
The last piece of evidence that Butler testified was a canvas mattress pad, which presumably belonged to Paul Flores when he lived in Room 128 of Santa Lucia Hall in 1996. She spotted 9 areas of mattress for DNA samples.
She said that it was a very low-level, degraded sample and a mixture of DNA was found. She said that the DNA mixture was interpreted as originating from three contributors with at least one male, although Butler said there wasn’t one singular main, stronger contributor for the mixture.
She has been countered by Paul Flores’ attorney, Robert Sanger who objected to her many times but Judge Jennifer O’Keefe overruled the objections. Sanger questioned Butler regarding the balanced pH of blood, before testing. For which Butler answered that there is no document in literature and research that checking the pH levels of a sample is not a necessary step of testing for human blood.
Butler’s testimony was set to resume for further trials.