A California judge has denied a request from prosecutors to add rape charges against the man accused of killing Kristin Smart 25 years ago.
The San Luis Obispo Tribune reported that Superior Court Judge Craig van Rooyen in court on Wednesday rejected a motion from the San Luis Obispo County District Attorney’s Office to add two rape charges against Paul Flores, stating, “There’s no evidence of a sex crime in the charged crime itself.”
Van Rooyen went on to say that adding additional charges that currently have no physical or forensic evidence to back them “invites error” in the murder trial, the local news outlet reported.
Flores, Smart’s former classmate at California Polytechnic State University and the prime suspect in the decades-old case, was arrested and charged with murder in April.
His father, Ruben Flores, was also charged with being an accessory to murder after the fact.
Prosecutors have argued that Paul Flores, now 44, was the last person to be seen with Smart before her 1996 disappearance, alleging that he killed the first-year student while attempting to rape her in his dorm room after agreeing to walk her home from a party.
Smart’s body has never been found, though authorities officially declared her dead in 2002.
Ruben Flores has pleaded not guilty to his accessory charge. He and his son were arrested at the same time in April after the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Department said it had found “biological evidence” indicating Smart was once buried under Ruben Flores’s deck behind his home, according to The Associated Press.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing, with a lawyer for Paul Flores on Wednesday calling the prosecution’s attempt to add rape charges a “publicity stunt,” local ABC-CBS affiliate station KEYT reported.
The judge on Wednesday also ordered that a preliminary hearing for the murder trial be moved from July 20 to Aug. 2, at which prosecutors will have the chance to detail for the first time in court components of the investigation into Smart’s disappearance.