The man convicted of murdering fellow student Kristin Smart in 1996 was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole in a California court on Friday, according to CNN affiliate KSBY.
Paul Flores, 46, was convicted in October of the first degree murder of Smart, whose body was never found.
Smart disappeared in May 1996, when she and Flores were both attending Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in central California. Flores was the last person to see Smart alive, and prosecutors argued he raped or attempted to rape Smart and then killed her in her dorm.
Smart’s disappearance rocked the city of San Luis Obispo, with little progress made on the case for more than two decades. Smart was pronounced dead by authorities in 2002.
A podcast started in 2019 by journalist Chris Lambert titled “Your Own Backyard” then drew renewed attention to the plight of Smart and his family, which his family later credited with shining the spotlight “in our darkest hours. by sharing Kristin’s voice and story.”
In 2021, new evidence led authorities to arrest Flores and her father, Ruben Flores, in connection with Smart’s death. Investigators at Ruben Flores’ home used ground-penetrating radar, dug on the property using hand tools and recovered items as evidence, the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office told CNN. at the time.
Prosecutors accused Flores’ father of helping move Smart’s body to his home in Arroyo Grande and hiding his remains under his patio for a period of time. A jury later found Ruben Flores not guilty of being an accessory to Smart’s murder.
Following Paul’s conviction and Ruben’s acquittal on October 18, 2022, Smart’s family expressed mixed emotions and thanked prosecutors and investigators for their efforts.
“Without Kristin, there is no joy or victory with this verdict, we all know it was not meant to be,” read a statement from the Smart family. “After 26 years, with today’s split verdicts, we learned that our pursuit of justice for Kristin will continue.”