Paul Flores, the man convicted of killing Kristin Smart, was sentenced to serve 25 years to life in state prison Friday.
Flores, 46, was found guilty of first-degree murder in October by a Monterey County jury in the death of Smart, a 19-year-old first-year Cal Poly student who disappeared in 1996 but whose body has never been found.
Monterey County Judge Jennifer O'Keefe denied requests by Flores' defense team for a new trial Friday morning in Salinas. There was a recess and sentencing began at 1 p.m., with O'Keefe delivering her sentence at around 3 p.m.
San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, whose office prosecuted the case, said the sentence has "finally delivered justice for Kristin Smart, for the Smart family, and for our San Luis Obispo County community."
“We thank the Smart family and our community for the tremendous trust and patience they placed in the investigation and prosecution of this terrible crime," Dow said. "We recognize the jury for their focused attention to the evidence and the Sheriff’s Office for their tireless effort in building this case.
"Today, justice delayed is not justice denied.”
San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson said the sentence "was a long time coming," but a decision "that is right and just."
"Our thoughts right now are with the Smart family," Parkinson said. "Today is not about us and what we did, but about them and what they do now. How they move forward. We want to remind the community this case is not over yet. And it won’t be over until Kristin has been returned to her family."
Prosecutors accused Flores of killing Smart during an attempted rape on May 25, 1996, in his dorm room at Cal Poly.
He was the last person to see Smart alive when he walked her back to her dorm room while she was intoxicated following an off-campus party. Smart was declared legally dead in 2002.
Ruben Flores, Paul Flores' father, was acquitted of accessory after the fact in October.
Paul Flores was arrested in San Pedro and booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail in April of 2021, nearly 25 years after Smart’s disappearance. Ruben Flores was also arrested after he was accused of helping his son hide her body, allegedly burying it in the backyard of the family's Arroyo Grande home and later moving it.
The trial was moved to Salinas in Monterey County at the request of defense lawyers, who argued Paul Flores could not get a fair trial in San Luis Obispo County due to the amount of publicity around Smart’s disappearance.
Robert Sanger, Paul Flores' defense attorney, tried to pin Smart's killing on someone else — noting that Scott Peterson, who was later convicted of killing his pregnant wife and the fetus she was carrying — was also a Cal Poly student at the time.
Paul Flores had long been considered a suspect in the killing. He had a black eye when investigators interviewed him in 1996. He told them he got it playing basketball with friends, who denied his account, according to court records. He later changed his story to say he bumped his head while working on the radio of his car.
Behind latticework beneath the deck of his father's large house on a dead end street in Arroyo Grande, 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. The blood was too degraded to extract a DNA sample.
The case was prosecuted by then-Deputy District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle along with "J.T." Camp, assistant chief investigator for the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Bureau of Investigation and Clint Cole, senior detective with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. Peuvrelle is now a top attorney with Monterey County.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.