Paul Flores has been sentenced to 25 years to life without parole for the 1996 murder of California student Kristin Smart.
Prior to his sentencing, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe dismissed a motion by the defence for a new trial and to overturn a guilty verdict.
Her body has never been found, and she was declared dead in 2002. Despite witness and forensic evidence linking Flores to the murder, it remained unsolved for 25 years until prosecutors charged him with Smart’s murder in April 2021.
Flores was convicted after a three and a half month jury trial in October 2022. The trial was shifted to Monterey, after defence attorneys argued it would be impossible for him to receive a fair trial in San Luis Obispo, given the notoriety of the case.
His father Ruben Flores was tried alongside his son on a charge of being an accessory to the murder, but was acquitted.
Mr Flores and wife Susan attended Friday’s sentencing.
On 24 May 1996, Smart, 19, attended an off-campus party with her roommate Margarita Campos and fellow students at California Polytechnic State University, known as Cal Poly.
The pair separated as Ms Campos wanted to return to their dorm room early, while Smart stayed out.
According to prosecutors, Paul Flores murdered Smart while attempting to rape her at his dorm room.
They maintained he was the last person to see Smart alive and walked home with her after she became intoxicated.
Paul Flores had long been a suspect in Smart’s disappearance, and was the subject of a wrongful death suit brought by her family in the 1990s.
When investigators came to interview him he had a black eye, which he blamed on a basketball game with friends.
They denied his account, and he later changed his story to say he bumped his head on a car.
It was only after renewed attention on the case after the release of Chris Lambert’s podcast Your Own Backyard in 2019 that the investigation ramped up again.
When the Floreses were arrested in 2021, authorities credited the podcast with bringing “valuable” new information forward.
Dozens of searches were conducted of Smart’s remains over the years.
Prosecutors told the jury that his father helped bury the first-year student behind his home in nearby Arroyo Grande, and later dug up the remains and moved them.
Over the years investigators conducted dozens of searches in the San Luis Obispo area for Smart’s body.
In March 2021, archaeologists found a soil disturbance about the size of a coffin and the presence of human blood at Ruben Flores’ Arroyo Grande home.
The blood did not yield a positive DNA sample, but prosecutors were able to convince a jury using circumstantial evidence and Paul Flores’ shifting statements over the years.
The trial was moved from San Luis Obispo County 110 miles north to Salinas, after the defence argued it would be impossible for the father and son to receive fair trial given the high-profile nature of the case.
A not guilty verdict was reached in Ruben Flores’ case on Monday, and that decision was sealed pending the jury reaching a decision in Paul Flores’ murder trial.