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A jury on Tuesday convicted Paul Flores in the murder of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo student Kristin Smart, ending a more than two-decade mystery that both captivated and outraged the Central Coast college town.
Flores was found guilty of first-degree murder even though authorities never found Smart’s body, an issue long considered a stumbling block in the case.
His father, Ruben Flores, 81, was acquitted of being an accessory to murder. A second jury that heard evidence at the same time during the 12-week trial of the two men thought there was reasonable doubt that he had helped his son cover up the crime by burying Smart’s body under his house’s deck and keeping the remains there for years.
Smart was 19 when she vanished on May 25, 1996, after walking toward the college dormitories with Paul Flores after a party. She was legally declared dead in 2002.