Kristin Smart murder trial will be moved to Monterey County
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (AP) — A judge on Wednesday moved the Kristin Smart murder trial nearly 150 miles after ruling last month that her accused killer couldn’t get a fair trial in San Luis Obispo County.
Superior Court Judge Craig Ban Rooyen announced that Paul Flores will be tried in Monterey County on California’s central coast.
The city of Monterey is about 241 kilometers northwest of San Luis Obispo.
Van Rooyen said the Judicial Council of California helped him identify two counties as potential locations where Flores could receive a fair trial but he didn’t mention the other site, KEYT-TV reported.
Flores is charged with the murder of Smart, who vanished 25 years ago. He was the last person seen with a very intoxicated Smart on May 25, 1996, as he helped walk her to her dorm at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo after a party, witnesses said.
Prosecutors said he killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room.
His father, Ruben Flores, 80, is charged with helping dispose of her body, which was never found.
Both men have pleaded not guilty.
In granting a change-of-venue motion for Flores and his father last month, the judge said extensive news coverage of the case and a volume of speculation on social media would make it hard to find an unbiased jury.
Van Rooyen said that while the case had received national attention, especially since the two men were arrested last year, it has been under scrutiny for decades in the relatively small coastal county of 283,000 people.
The trial was scheduled to start next Monday but instead a hearing will be held then to discuss a new trial date.