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Citing massive publicity surrounding case, judge moves Kristen Smart murder trial off Central Coast

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office is reporting major developments in the investigation into the 1996 disappearance of Cal Poly student Kristen Smart.
Smart Family
A judge has ordered a change of venue in the Kristen Smart murder trial, citing extensive pretrial publicity.

Judge says case might be most publicized in San Luis Obispo County history, making it impossible for impartial trial for man accused of Smart's murder.

A judge is moving the murder trial of the man accused of the 1996 murder of a Central Coast college student out of San Luis Obispo County.

The judge decided the intense publicity surrounding the Kristen Smart case would make it impossible for Paul Flores to get an impartial trial in the county.

Smart was last seen alive in May of 1996, when Flores was walking her back to the Cal Poly campus from a party. Prosecutors say he killed her in his dorm room. Her remains have never been recovered.

Flores was considered a person of interest by investigators for years, but was arrested last year.

The change of venue ruling also applies to Ruben Flores, who’s charged as an accessory. Prosecutors assert that after the killing, he helped hide Smart's body.

Paul and Ruben Flores have both entered not guilty pleas to the charges they are facing.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.