FILE PHOTO: An undated handout image of missing college student Kristin Smart. Office of the Attorney General of California/Handout via REUTERS
(Reuters) -A California man was sentenced on Friday to serve 25 years to life in prison for his conviction in the 1996 killing of college classmate Kristin Smart, whose disappearance over a quarter-century go long ranked as one of state’s most sensational unsolved crimes.
The sentence handed down for Paul Flores, the maximum penalty he faced for his conviction on first-degree murder, was announced by the San Luis Obispo County district attorney on Twitter.
Flores, 45, was found guilty by a 12-member jury in Monterey County Superior Court in October at the end of a three-month trial. For many years the leading suspect in her disappearance, Flores was arrested and charged with Smart’s death in April 2021.
Smart was 19 when she went missing on May 25, 1996, from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, about 150 miles (240 km) northwest of Los Angeles. She had last been seen returning to her dormitory from an off-campus party at about 2 a.m.
Prosecutors accused Flores of killing her during a rape or attempted rape. Smart’s remains have never been found although investigators said they searched 18 locations for her body.