A California judge on Wednesday allowed the trial for deceased Kristin Smart‘s accused killer Paul Flores to be moved about 150 miles away from its original location in San Luis Obispo County.
Flores, 45, is accused of murdering Smart, who was legally declared dead in 2002 after she was initially reported missing in May 1996.
Authorities said Flores was the last person seen with Smart when he walked her home after a party on May 25, 1996. They were both 19 at the time and students at California Polytechnic State University.
San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen said Wednesday that the trial will be moved to Monterey County after receiving guidance from the Judicial Council of California, which determined two potential locations for the trial, including Monterey County. Rooyen did not name the other location, according to KEYT, a local FOX, CBS and ABC-affiliated station.
Flores’ defense team filed a motion in March asking for the trial to be moved out of San Luis Obispo County in March due to heightened media and community attention on the case in that area, the outlet reported.
Robert Sanger, an attorney for Flores, also filed a motion on Wednesday, requesting that the court help Flores’ defense obtain evidence from the prosecution, including three dozen soil samples that may be re-tested, according to KEYT.
Paul and his 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores, were arrested in April 2021 in connection to Smart’s disappearance. Prosecutors say Paul Flores killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room and the elder Flores helped dispose of her body, which has never been found.
Flores pleaded not guilty to the suspected first-degree murder of Smart. His 80-year-old father, Ruben Flores, pleaded not guilty to being an accessory to murder.
During a preliminary hearing In 2021, prosecutors presented evidence that traces of Smart’s body, including human blood, were once found under a deck shielded by lattice behind Ruben Flores’ home. Prosecutors said the body had been moved from that location, and it has not been located since.
Van Rooyen said at the time that with the lack of DNA, “nothing links it definitively to Ms. Smart,” but added that he had “a strong suspicion it was Ms. Smart’s remains.”
Fox News’ Stephen Sorace, Louis Casiano and The Associated Press contributed to this report.