Kristin Smart murder trial: Paul Flores found guilty 26 years after disappearance

Smart, a 19-year-old college student, disappeared in 1996.

A California jury has found Paul Flores guilty in the murder of 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart in 1996.

His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 9. He faces 25 years to life in prison.

His father, Ruben Flores, was found not guilty of accessory to murder in connection with the crime.

Paul Flores, a former classmate of Smart, was charged with murder, while his father was charged with being an accessory to the crime. Prosecutors say he helped hide Smart's body on his property in Arroyo Grande before moving it in 2020.

Smart went missing walking home from a party at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Her body has never been found, but authorities arrested Paul and Ruben Flores in April 2021 and found alleged evidence related to Smart's murder in their homes.

Paul and Ruben Flores were tried at the same time, but with separate juries hearing the case together. A verdict was reached in Ruben Flores' case on Monday; that decision was sealed until Paul Flores' jury reached its verdict Tuesday and they could be announced simultaneously.

Prosecutor 'extremely disappointed' in not-guilty verdict

San Luis Obispo County Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle said he was "extremely disappointed" in the not-guilty verdict for Ruben Flores, telling reporters he felt he had proven the father's guilt as an accessory to the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

"Nevertheless, I think we all respect the jury's verdict and appreciate the time that they spent on it," he added.

DA thanks podcaster for helping identify 'critical' evidence

San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow thanked a true-crime podcaster after a jury reached a guilty verdict in the trial over Kristin Smart's murder.

Chris Lambert launched the series "Your Own Backyard" in 2019, recounting Smart's disappearance, which renewed public interest in the case.

Lambert "devoted countless hours in order to keep Kristin's memory alive and the case in the forefront of the hearts and minds of people in our communities," Dow said.

The podcast also helped to identify additional witnesses and evidence that was "critical in the prosecution of this case," he added.

Sheriff vows to bring Kristin Smart home

San Luis Obispo County Sheriff Ian Parkinson told reporters that the Kristin Smart case "is not over."

"This case will not be over until Kristin is returned home," he said during a press conference Tuesday with the family. "That I remain committed to."

Smart's body was never found after she disappeared in 1996.

Stan Smart: 'Without Kristin, there is no joy or happiness with this verdict'

Kristin Smart's father, Stan Smart, made a statement on behalf of the family in the wake of the guilty verdict.

"Without Kristin, there is no joy or happiness with this verdict," he told reporters during a press conference with the San Luis Obispo County's district attorney's office and sheriff's office Tuesday.

He called the journey to the trials a "long, overwhelming and emotional" one, and spoke directly to his daughter.

"To our Kirstin, almost three decades ago our lives were irreparably changed on the night you disappeared," he said. "Know that your spirit lives on in each and every one of us."

"Not a single day goes by that you aren't missed, remembered, loved and celebrated," he continued.

Kristin Smart's mother, brother and sister were also present at the press conference.