Convicted killer of Cal Poly student Kristin Smart ordered to pay $350k in restitution

A California judge ruled Monday that a man convicted of killing 19-year-old college student Kristin Smart in 1996 must pay just over $350,000 to her family for costs they incurred after her death.

Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe ordered Paul Flores to make the payments after a hearing last Wednesday, during which the family told the court how much they paid for travel, a private investigator, billboards seeking information, lost wages and a celebration of life gathering.

"It’s demeaning to Kristin’s memory to measure our loss in finances," her mother Denise Smart told The Tribune of San Luis Obispo after Wednesday’s hearing. "Our loss is Kristin."

The family had sought about $361,000 in restitution. O’Keefe told the family that they could seek additional restitution if they wish to submit other expenses.

California courts require those convicted of crimes to compensate victims for the expenses that were caused, regardless of a defendant’s ability to pay. The state corrections department collects 50% of prison wages and money deposited in a convict’s trust account to pay restitution.

Smart went missing from California Polytechnic State University in May 1996. Prosecutors alleged she was killed during an attempted rape and that the last person she was seen with was Flores, a fellow student. Kristin Smart was declared legally dead in 2002.


Paul Flores, left, appears with defense attorney Robert Sanger in Monterey County Superior Court in Salinas, California on Friday, March 10, 2023. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering Cal Poly student Kristin Smart. (Laura Dic

A podcast called "Your Own Backyard" helped investigators crack the case by bringing forward additional witnesses. Flores and his father, Ruben Flores, were arrested in 2021.

Prosecutors alleged Kristin Smart’s remains were buried on Ruben Flores’ property and later moved. He was acquitted of accessory charges.

Paul Flores was convicted in October 2022 and sentenced in March 2023 to 25 years to life. He has been physically attacked in prison twice since August 2023.

Denise Smart said last week that the family offered to forgo restitution if Flores would tell them where Kristin’s body was. Flores’ attorney, Harold Mesick, said the defense did not know where her remains are. Flores maintains his innocence, Mesick said.

Denise Smart said Monday that the offer remains open.