Former classmates of Kristin Smart testify in Paul Flores trial
SALINAS -- The Kristin Smart murder trial continued Wednesday in a Monterey County courtroom, as jurors heard from Smart's former classmates who shared details about Memorial Day weekend 1996.
Wednesday began where Tuesday ended, with Trevor Boelter, Smart's former classmate at Cal Poly, on the stand to share about multiple encounters with Smart he said he had at an off-campus house party the night she disappeared.
Paul Flores is accused of killing Smart and hiding her body in his father, Ruben's, backyard. The father and son are being tried separately, but their cases are being heard together in Salinas. The trial moved out of San Luis Obispo County due to concerns the Flores's would not receive a fair trial due to public interest.
Boelter told San Luis Obispo Deputy District Attorney Chris Peuvrelle Smart, who identified herself on the night of the party as "Roxy" grabbed his hand, kissed him, and led him into the bathroom. Once inside, Boelter said Smart asked, "Do you think I'm ugly?"
After a short back and forth, Boelter said Smart said she had to use the bathroom and he left. During this interaction, Boelter said, he did not smell alcohol on her.
"I don't recall her drinking anything," Boelter told the court, "but I wasn't monitoring it," he added.
Boelter encountered Smart multiple times at the party but "wasn't watching her like a hawk," he said.
He explained when he saw her later in the night it was as if Smart was, "tripping on something," and further explained she "didn't seem, like, drunk... it was druggy."
Boelter was asked in the courtroom to identify Paul Flores and once he was able, told the court that Flores was the person who came up to him after he left the bathroom with Smart.
In the cross-examination of Boelter, Paul's attorney, Robert Sanger, asked Boelter why, in his first interview with the San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department, he did not mention he saw Paul the night of the party. Boelter noted, at the time in 1996, he was startled awake, "he woke me up so I was not fully cognizant," Boelter explained.
It wasn't until 2005, Boelter said, he was "95% sure" the person he saw at the off-campus party was Paul Flores. He maintained in court he doesn't remember being drunk at the party.
As Boelter's testimony continued, he shared he experienced what it was like to be "roofied." He explained he had a "wild feeling" was talkative and social, wanted to dance, and then felt sick and passed out. He told jurors his friends had to carry him out.
"When I reflected on that... that reminds me of that night... seeing Kristin Smart," Boelter said.
Jurors were able to see images of house on Crandall Way, the off-campus party where Smart was the night she disappeared.
Another former Cal Poly student, Eric Wilkins follow Boelter's testimony. He walked jurors through the night of the off-campus party at the house on Crandall Way, from his perspective.
Wilkins said he noticed Smart in the front yard when he left the party, "in the front yard bushes area" he described. He said she was not dressed for cold weather and it was "chilly" that night.
He said, along with a friend, the pair tried to encourage Smart to get up but did not get a clear response from Smart, who he described as, "not fully" coherent.
In his cross examination, Sanger asked about Wilkins' testimony over the years about the night of the party and asked if he remembered what happened because of his own memory, or due to conversations with others afterwards.
Wilkins: "I remember the events because it came up later."
Wilkins told Ruben Flores's attorney, Harold Mesick, during cross-examination he did not interact with Smart at the off-campus party before he saw her outside on the lawn. He said he may have seen the group, that included Smart, walk towards the dorms but does not remember seeing the group reaching the intersection, because he was further behind.
The third former Cal Poly student to take the stand Wednesday, Jennifer Medeiros, who was a freshman in 1996.
Medeiros lived in Muir Hall, the same dorm as Smart, who lived across the hall. She was involved in conversations of concern when Smart did not return to the dorms after the Friday night she went to the off-campus party.
"She was a person that we knew and cared about and it's not normal for people to not come home," Medeiros said.
She attempted to call police to report Smart was missing, but was told it was a Cal Poly campus issue and she had to call the Cal Poly police.
In response, Cal Poly police told Medeiros "people do things like this all the time," she said, and was told to call back if Smart did not return home by Tuesday.
Smart's friends in the dorm concerns, "elevated exponentially every day and our worry... sick feeling and feeling of helplessness grew each day," said Medeiros.
Visibly crying on the stand, Medeiros relived the days immediately following Smart's disappearance.
In cross-examination, questions from Sanger are focused on Smart's patterns and likeliness she would not return to the dorm in some situations.
She is also asked about the delay in Smart being reported missing, and details the timeline of how Smart's friends attempted to report her missing to campus and city police.
The fourth former Cal Poly student to take the stand, Derreick Tse, was a junior at Cal Poly in 1996 and roommates with Paul Flores.
Tse said the two were roommates until the end of the year. He was gone on Memorial Day weekend 1996, he explained, and told Paul he would be gone "sometime before" Friday night, the same night Smart disappeared.
Tse returned to Cal Poly on Tuesday and said the roommates talked about Smart.
"We talked about what happened and he said that he saw her at a party and after the party she went missing and he was the last person to see her," said Tse.
From what he remembered, Tse said, that's all Paul would tell him on the subject. He went on that he told Paul, "you probably did something, you know, with her," and then said Paul said back, "Yeah, she's at my mom's house right now."
Tse said Paul's demeanor at this time was "pretty serious" and Paul never denied he did something to Smart during what Tse believed was a joking interaction.
On Paul's demeanor and attitude towards other people, his former roommate said Paul was "confrontational with other people" but that he, personally, had no problems with Paul.
In a line of questioning by Sanger, Tse said he did not recall if Paul told him he went to his dorm room and Smart went to hers.
Thursday proceedings will include more testimony from James (J.T) Camp, the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney's Office's lead investigator. He took the stand earlier in the week, but was subject to recall, or return to the witness stand when called by the prosecution.
Court will resume Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
Nicolás Viñuela is a CBS contributor to this post and is a general assignment reporter for the Mustang Daily News.
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