More than a quarter-century after college freshman Kristin Smart vanished in what became one of California's most notorious unsolved crimes, the man convicted of killing her was sentenced on Friday to serve 25 years to life in prison. The prison term imposed on Smart's one-time classmate, Paul Flores, the maximum sentence under California law, was announced by the San Luis Obispo County district attorney, Reuters reports. Flores, 46, was found guilty by a jury in Monterey County Superior Court in October 2022 in a three-month trial. He was arrested and charged with Smart's death in April 2021. Another jury acquitted the defendant's father, Ruben Flores, who was accused of helping to hide Smart's body, of being an accessory to murder.
Smart was 19 when she went missing on May 25, 1996, from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, about 150 miles northwest of Los Angeles. She had last been seen returning to her dormitory from an off-campus party at about 2 a.m. Prosecutors accused Flores of killing her during a rape or attempted rape. Smart's remains have never been found' investigators have searched 18 locations for her body. For many years the leading suspect in Smart's disappearance, Flores had told investigators he left the same gathering with Smart but parted company with her about a block from her dorm. New evidence and witnesses found by freelance journalist Chris Lambert's 2019 documentary podcast, "Your Own Backyard," helped investigators crack the case, said prosecutors and Sheriff Ian Parkinson. In response to delays in the investigation of the case, state lawmakers passed legislation requiring colleges and universities to share information more quickly about missing students with off-campus police. Parkinson has vowed that the case would remain open until Smart's remains are found