The attorney defending Paul Flores in the trial related to missing college student Kristin Smart spent hours sparring with a woman who said she heard the murder suspect call Smart a “d— tease” and say he buried her under his skate ramp, according to reports from inside the courtroom.
Jurors in court on Monday heard hours of back and forth between Flores’ defense attorney, Robert Sanger, and Jennifer Hudson, who had previously testified about how Flores made comments about Smart and her whereabouts.
Smart was a 19-year-old college student at California Polytechnic State University in 1996 when she vanished after an off-campus party, investigators have said. More than 26 years later, Flores – the man who was last seen with Smart – and his father are standing trial on charges related to her presumed death.
Flores, now 45, has been charged with Smart’s murder. Ruben Flores, his 81-year-old father, was charged with acting as an accessory after the fact.
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The trial proceedings are not being televised or live-streamed, pursuant to a judge’s ruling. A handful of journalists — including local news station KSBY-TV and the person behind the “Your Own Backyard” (YOB) Podcast, which is credited with renewing interest in the case — have been reporting from inside the courtroom amid the media limitations.
On Thursday, Hudson testified about her encounter with Flores when she was skateboarding with him and a group of others in 1996, when she was 17, according to KSBY.
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Hudson had previously told investigators that she and the group heard a public service announcement “asking if anyone had information about Kristin Smart or her disappearance,” according to previously released court papers.
She told investigators, “Flores responded to the PSA by saying that b—- was a d— tease and that he was done playing with her. He buried/put her underneath his ramp in Huasna,” court papers state.
She allegedly couldn’t recall if Flores said “put her” or “buried” when uttering the sentence, court papers add.
“It did not appear to [the woman] that he was joking as he was not laughing or smiling,” documents allege. She then said that she left and “vomited” the next time she saw him.
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She reportedly acknowledged in court that she did not initially notify police about her encounter with Flores until after the release of the YOB Podcast, but her friend had notified authorities anonymously before she did.
During cross-examination, Hudson testified that the podcast maker had asked her not to report certain information to police, but she said told authorities everything she knew, according to the report.
On Monday, Sanger repeatedly asked Hudson about her consumption of alcohol and drugs, despite several objections from prosecutors, according to a series of tweets from the YOB Podcast.
When speaking about Hudson’s initial contact with the podcast maker, Sanger asked Hudson about a statement from her friend, Justin, who had first reported Hudson’s tip to the police and the podcast producers.
“[Justin] says, ‘This is all because we got drunk and talked s— about Paul one night lol?’” Sanger said, according to the reports.
Hudson responded: “Yes.”
Hudson also acknowledged that she did not call the detective working on the case until mid-November, despite meeting with the podcast producers earlier in the month. She canceled on the detective once and then didn’t show up the next time, according to the report.
“And you told Detective Cole that you were on drugs?” Sanger reportedly asked her.
“Not on the day I met Paul,” Hudson responded, according to the tweets. “I told him I used drugs around that time period.”
She later acknowledged that she might have smoked marijuana.
Sanger repeatedly questioned Hudson about her alleged affiliation with “biker” groups or “a motorcycle gang,” and he implied that she was not answering the question truthfully, according to a transcript of the conversation included in the tweets.
Sanger then moved on, asking Hudson if she told the detective that she “thought Kristin Smart was buried in Susan Flores’ backyard and then covered with concrete.”
Hudson reportedly responded, “That was what made the most sense.”
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As Sanger continued to question Hudson regarding at-times small discrepancies in her testimony, some of the jurors could reportedly be seen shaking their heads or smiling at each other.
Sanger later asked Hudson to confirm that she “joked” with her friend that it would “be ideal” if Paul Flores would kill himself.
She reportedly responded: “That wasn’t a joke.”
During re-cross examination, Assistant District Attorney Christopher Peuvrelle asked Hudson to explain a previous statement in which she said she feels “responsibility for the misery of the Smart family.”
“If I was not a coward, I would have come forward,” she said as she began to cry, according to the YOB Podcast tweets.
“What else did Paul tell you?” Peuvrelle reportedly asked her.
“That he’d had enough of her, and he put her out under or by the ramp at ‘my place,'” Hudson testified.
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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 — two people, a man and 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.
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.
Dual juries were selected from a pool of more than 1,500 Monterey County residents to oversee each case separately but simultaneously. The trial is expected to last months.