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Witness says Paul Flores admitted he killed Kristin Smart: "Nothing alive behind his eyes"

SALINAS — A witness took jurors back to a social gathering in 1996 where she met Paul Flores, who, she said, made comments about Smart that she remembers 26 years later.

Jurors for Flores, Smart's former classmate, and his father, Ruben, listened to the final witness of a stacked-testimony day, now more than six weeks into Smart's murder trial, who disappeared in May 1996.

Jennifer Hudson, 17 years old when she met Flores, spoke of the interaction as she remembered it.

The gathering was small, in a rural area outside Arroyo Grande called Huasna. It took place in the afternoon, and she said she "briefly" interacted with Flores, who at the time, was a freshman at Cal Poly.

The two sat on a couch facing a skate ramp in the back of a home known for social gatherings in the backyard. The radio was on, and public outreach messages about Smart's disappearance rang out during commercial breaks.

At the time, authorities and Smart's family actively pled with the public for any information about her disappearance.

Hudson said Flores "made a statement about her [Smart]" after the outreach played.

Hudson told the court she heard Flores say, "That bitch was a dick tease, and I was done playing with her.'"

"I don't remember if he said 'put her' or 'buried her,' but it was 'under my ramp in Huasna, '" said Hudson, adding to the first statement.

Flores' demeanor when he delivered this line, Hudson said, was "cold," and she said the life behind his eyes didn't exist.

"No smirk, no smile, no tone of 'I'm being funny,'" said Hudson, "He was really pale."

She compared him to a "dead person" because his eyes were lifeless; she said he was cold and primal, something she recognized in him instantly.

"Even after all these decades, his eyes are what made me 1000% believe that he was serious," said Hudson on Thursday.

She remembered being creeped out and leaving shortly after the interaction.

Two weeks after the interaction, she saw Flores again. This time, she told the court: "As soon as I recognized him, I got ill." Flores asked Hudson to go skate, but she declined and went back home immediately.

Down the road, in 2002, Hudson recounted the interaction with Flores to a friend and roommate. It was a story, she said, she had never told anyone because she was "terrified" to deal with law enforcement.

That friend, Justin Goodman, submitted an anonymous tip on her behalf that she only learned about recently in the last three years.

In cross-examination, Hudson took questions posed by Flores' attorney, Robert Sanger. He asked how well she knew Flores, to which she explained they did not know each other.

Sanger asked Hudson about the "Your Own Backyard Podcast" and her interest in being interviewed. She said she wanted the story out to increase the chances of law enforcement finding Smart.

Sanger asked Hudson why, at no point in more than two decades, Hudson never contacted law enforcement to share about the interaction she said she had with Flores about Smart's disappearance.

She said, "You don't call the police," "You don't say, 'gee, there's still people looking for KS',"

"At the time that you claim that you had this contact with the man who said that he did [kill her], you didn't know Paul Flores?" said Sanger.

Hudson: "No."

Hudson was not the only witness jurors heard from on Thursday; they also heard from a private contractor for trace evidence for Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, Faye Springer.

Springer detailed findings at Ruben Flores' home in Arroyo Grande that included synthetic fibers that were "red, some blues, and the lighter colored ones I didn't really make a determination," she said.

San Luis Obispo Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle asked Springer if the synthetic fibers could include vinyl. She said if it was polyvinyl, then yes.

This piece of evidence aligns with part of Peuvrelle's opening statements in the trial and early testimony from Smart's friends that saw her the night she disappeared after an off-campus party.

They described her outfit to include shorts that were made in a material that was made of a polyvinyl material.

Smart's body has never been found.

The trial resumes Sep. 12 after a long weekend break. 

Nicolás Viñuela is a CBS contributor to this post and is a general assignment reporter for the Mustang Daily News.  

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