Los Angeles (AP) — A California college student who has been missing for nearly 25 years was once buried in the backyard of a house owned by the murderer’s father, officials said in court documents.
A document submitted by a San Luis Obispo tribune reporter on Monday and posted on social media said the undiscovered body of Christine Smart was recently removed from Ruben Flores’s home, according to prosecutors.
Ruben Flores, 80, was acquitted of accessories after being killed for hiding Smart’s body after his son was allegedly murdered by Smart. 44-year-old Paul Flores pleaded not guilty to murder.
Paul Flores, a freshman at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, was the last person to be seen with Smart on May 25, 1996. ..
Court documents were submitted before bail discussions at the San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Monday when the father and son were indicted.That was the first Reported by Tribune, The reporter posted an excerpt of the document on Twitter.
Defense lawyers criticized the evidence used to arrest both men last week. Harold Mesic said Monday that evidence against his father was “minimal enough to shock decency.”
According to the document, investigators at the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office had biological evidence that Smart was once buried under the deck of Ruben Flores behind his home in nearby Arroyo Grande.
“The excavation under his deck … showed horrifying evidence that the body was buried there and then recently moved,” said prosecutor Christopher Pouvrel.
Pouvrel, who said he helped Ruben Flores cover up crime for nearly a quarter of a century, will continue to do so once released.
“From the evidence gathered from the archaeological excavation, it is reasonable to believe that Ruben Flores now knows the location of Christine Smart’s body. If he is granted bail, he will use his freedom. It is virtually certain that it will continue. In this case, his attempt to help Paul Flores prevent the prosecution and keep her body hidden. “
Smart’s body has never been found, but authorities have not recently disclosed its location, but said she believed she knew where she was buried.
The arrests of the father and son occurred last month after an investigator using ground penetrating radar and a corpse dog found evidence directly related to Smart’s death during a search at Ruben Flores’ home, officials said. They did not reveal what was found, but returned to the yard to dig further after the arrest.
Meesic declined to comment on Tuesday because of a gag order.
On Monday, he questioned why investigators needed to continue looking for evidence after their arrest. At the time of his arrest on April 13, sheriffs said they believed there was sufficient evidence to win the conviction.
Mythic claimed that there were many innocent explanations for why the garden was previously dug. He said the backhoe dug a ditch to throw away the soil that had been removed to lay the foundation nearby.
Paul Flores was ordered to be held on Monday without bail. However, the judge said he would set a reasonable bail on Wednesday as his father, who has health problems, is currently paying $ 250,000 on bail from San Luis Obispo.
The document summarizes why prosecutors do not want either man to be released until a few years later.
Court spokeswoman Nikki Rodriguez said the document should not be published. The judge in the case issued a gag order prohibiting lawyers, investigators, witnesses, etc. from talking about the case or publishing documents.
The Tribune said it had obtained official documents from the city’s courthouse 160 miles (258 km) northwest of Los Angeles.