Paul Flores sentenced to 25 years to life for Kristin Smart murder

Paul Flores (left) and his attorney. March 31, 2022 

Paul Flores, the man convicted of killing California college student Kristin Smart, who vanished more than two decades ago, has been sentenced Friday to 25 years or life in prison. 

The punishment was read to Flores in a Monterey County courtroom after the 45-year-old was found guilty of first-degree murder last October. Prior to the sentencing, a judge denied a motion from Flores' attorney seeking a second trial.

As of this day, the body of Smart, who was a 19-year-old college student at California Polytechnic State University in 1996 when she disappeared, has never been found. In 2002, she was declared legally dead. 

Smart was a student at Cal Poly’s San Luis Obispo campus in 1996 when she was allegedly heavily intoxicated with Paul Flores after an off-campus party on Crandall Way. She was walked back from the party by three people – a man, a woman and Flores. The others slowly peeled off after Flores allegedly insisted multiple times that he could get Smart home safely. 

She was never seen again. 


Kristin Smart murder suspect 'hunted her,' unsealed documents allege

Documents indicate that Paul Flores was "hunting" Kristin Smart at Cal Poly 25 years ago and would lurk around her residence hall in the months leading up to her disappearance.

The state has said Flores killed Smart in his dorm room while he tried to rape her when they were both freshmen. The disappearance prompted a massive search. 

Paul Flores had long been considered a suspect in the killing. He had a black eye when investigators interviewed him. He told them he got it playing basketball with friends, who denied his account. He later changed his story to say he bumped his head while working on his car, according to court records. 

Prosecutors also argued Paul’s father Ruben helped him bury Smart’s body under the deck behind his Arroyo Grande home – and then later dug up her remains when law enforcement returned decades later. 

But in a trial last year held alongside Paul’s, a jury found Ruben Flores not guilty of acting as an accessory after the fact. 

Behind latticework beneath the deck of Ruben Flores’ large house on a dead-end street, archaeologists working for police in March 2021 found a soil disturbance about the size of a casket and the presence of human blood, prosecutors said. Yet the blood was too degraded to extract a DNA sample. 

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones and The Associated Press contributed to this report.