'Quest for justice will continue': Kristin Smart's family pained at 'split verdicts' as Paul Flores' dad acquitted

'Quest for justice will continue': Kristin Smart's family pained at 'split verdicts' as Paul Flores' dad acquitted
Paul Flores had killed Kristin Smart in 1996 (FBI / San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office)

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIFORNIA: The heartbroken father of Kristin Smart has expressed his gratitude towards detectives, sheriffs, and prosecutors following Paul Flores’ conviction on Tuesday, October 18. The 45-year-old is now reportedly scheduled to face the sentencing on December 9. Stan Smart also expressed his unhappiness towards the acquittal of Paul’s father, Ruben Flores, who was initially charged with being an accessory to the crime.

Speaking to the media after the verdict, Stan said, “After 26 years, with today's split verdicts, we learned that our quest for justice for Kristin will continue. This has been an agonizingly long journey, with more downs than ups, but we are grateful and appreciate the diligence and energy of the two juries to thoroughly review the facts and reach their decision,” as he noted that he and his family’s “faith in the justice system has been renewed”.

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The father of Kristin, who was last seen in May 1996 after an off-campus frat party, also added, “To our Kristin: Almost three decades ago, our lives were irreparably changed on the night you disappeared. Know that your spirit lives on in each and every one of us, every day. Not a single day goes by where you aren't missed, remembered, loved and celebrated.” 

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Paul was arrested in April 2021 as he was the last person with whom Kristin, who was pronounced legally dead in 2002, was seen before she disappeared. Along with Paul his father was also taken into custody as it was alleged that he helped his son in hiding the young woman’s body. 

Though Paul has been found guilty of the college student’s murder, her body is yet to be found. After the decision was taken, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe while referring to the jury, stated, “I wish to express to you appreciation and that of the parties for your service in this case. It is a great personal sacrifice to serve as a juror. ... You have been very attentive and conscientious throughout this case.”

Judge O’Keefe also addressed the jury, which freed the 81-year-old Ruben of all charges. She added, “You are fulfilling an extremely important role in our judicial system. Please accept our thanks for your time and our effort.”

Meanwhile, Paul’s father also spoke with the press after the verdict was out. The old man claimed to be pleased with his acquittal but said he was worried for his son. Talking about the prosecution, he noted, “They had so much stuff they made up. It was about feelings. It wasn't about facts.”

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Ruben’s lawyer, Harold Mesick, said, “He never should have been charged, and I'm very pleased with the outcome. Love our system of justice,” before explaining, “There is just so much animosity towards this man and his family. There's so much hate, and I really have never understood it. I understand that people are upset that Kristin is missing, I understand they want a person to be responsible for that.”

“But just the 'let's lynch 'em, let's burn 'em, let's hang 'em, let's kill 'em,' — I don't know where that came from in this country. And I wish the community who still feels that way would disabuse themselves of those feelings,” Mesick added.

Kristin’s case has gripped the nation for decades and after Tuesday’s ruling, many took to Twitter to share their pain with her family. A user tweeted, “That was heartbreaking to hear them share. The pain that family has gone through and will continue to go through saddens me.” Another user wrote, “Kristin is always in our hearts and thoughts.” “I was 16 When she was taken from her family  and my heart  hurts for them Still,” the third usr shared.

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