Jury selection underway for Ruben Flores in Kristin Smart murder trial

By Kathrene Herndon

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KSBY) – Potential jurors in the Kristin Smart murder trial are once again filling a Salinas courtroom.

Jury selection for Ruben Flores, accused of complicity in Kristin’s 1996 disappearance, began on Monday.

This combination photo shows suspects Paul Flores (L) and Ruben Flores (R), who were arrested Tuesday April 13, 2021 for the murder of Kristin Smart. Flores, the longtime suspect in the California student’s 25-year-old disappearance, was arrested on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, on suspicion of murder, and his father was jailed as an accomplice to the crime. Flores, 44, who was the last person seen with Smart on the California Polytechnic State University campus in San Luis Obispo before she disappeared in 1996, was arrested in the Los Angeles area. (San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

It was supposed to start in the morning, but didn’t actually start until after 2 p.m.

Between 10 and 25 jurors were immediately removed from duty, before formal questioning began.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe spent a lot of time advising the remaining potential jurors that they were prohibited from watching or reading anything related to the case or doing any kind of outside research.

While Paul and Reuben are being tried at the same time, they will each have separate juries. Judge O’Keefe mentioned that there will be times when individual juries will not be together, such as opening statements and closing arguments, which will be made separately for each defendant.

There will be other times when Paul’s jury hears evidence that doesn’t relate to his father, so Reuben’s jury will be removed from the courtroom during that time.

At the end of the day Monday, no other juror had been excused on either side. Jury selection in Ruben’s case will resume on Tuesday.

Twelve jurors and eight alternates for Paul, who is charged with Smart’s murder, have already been selected.

The initial jury pool was around 1,500, but this was significantly reduced.

Last week, hearings on the preliminary motions in this case took place. Evidence from soil samples and other DNA results was discussed at length on Friday, but the testimony is not over, so Judge Jennifer O’Keefe said the hearing for the motion for the defense to exclude that evidence from admission while the trial resumes Thursday.

Kristin Smart/NamUs

The high-profile murder trial is taking place in Monterey County following a decision by a San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge earlier this year in which he said he does not believe that Paul and Ruben could enjoy a fair and impartial trial in the county after years of publicity. in the case.

It is expected to last until at least October, with opening statements taking place on July 18.

If convicted, Paul, who is being held without bond, faces a sentence of 25 years to life in prison. His father, Ruben, currently out on bail, faces a maximum of three years behind bars.

The trial will not be televised. Judge O’Keefe restricted audio or video recordings during the trial and only allows still photography.

This story was originally published on July 11 by KSBY in Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo, an EW Scripps company.

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