SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - Two of the most infamous criminal cases in California were linked together in a surprise court development this week.
The defense for the man accused of killing Kristin Smart hopes to call convicted killer Scott Peterson to testify at an upcoming preliminary hearing, KEYT reported.
The lawyer for Paul Flores, 44, wants Peterson to testify because he and Smart allegedly knew each other when they both attended California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo in the 1990s.
Intertwining the case of one of California's most well-known crime victims with one of the state's most recognizable convicted killers is not likely to go far, according to legal experts.
Flores, also a former Cal Poly undergrad, was charged this year with allegedly murdering Smart after a party in 1996. Her body has not been found, though prosecutors alleged that she had been buried in the backyard of Flores' father, who has also been charged.
Peterson was convicted of murdering his wife Laci and their unborn child in 2002. He was sentenced to death in 2005, but a state Supreme Court overturned the penalty portion of the case last year, though the conviction stands.
Flores' attorney has made arrangements to transport Peterson from San Quentin State Prison to San Luis Obispo to testify, according to KEYT.
But it's unlikely that Peterson will be summoned to court without proof suggesting he was knows about her disappearance, according to KTVU legal analyst Michael Cardoza. If he is brought to court, however, don't expect him to say anything. Peterson would presumably refuse to testify under Fifth Amendment protections if it's suggested that he had a role in her death, Cardoza said.
The defense has not presented any evidence the Peterson is connected to the case.
"You cannot call a witness to the stand in a trial that is going to take the Fifth Amendment. A judge would prevent that because it would create an illusion that the person who's taking the fifth actually committed the crime. So they're not going to be allowed to testify," Cardoza further explained.
Cardoza said another hurdle for the defense team is filing a motion to remove Peterson from state prison.
"The district attorney would certainly fight that, and I would imagine state prison would, without some reasonable proof that Scott Peterson may have committed this crime. The defense cannot go on a fishing expedition," Cardoza said.
He said a judge and the district attorney will likely block the motion.
Flores was the last person seen with Smart on May 25, 1996, at Cal Poly where they were both freshmen.
Prosecutors said he killed Smart while trying to rape her in his dorm room after he had agreed to walk her home from a party, where she had gotten intoxicated. Investigators believe Flores' father Ruben, helped him conceal Smart's body. Her remains have never been found.
The preliminary hearing in the Kristin Smart murder case is set to resume on Monday.