A judge dismissed one of the jurors in the case of Ralph Flores on Thursday after he admitted to talking to his priest about the trial of missing California college student Kristin Smart.
Monterey County Superior Court Judge Jennifer O’Keefe questioned a juror about whether he'd spoken about the case to his priest at church after hearing from another juror that that was the case.
The juror told the judge that he had not discussed any specifics with his priest but said he needed spiritual guidance and blessings due to the stress the case was having on him.
The juror said the case wasn’t easy, and people's lives were at stake.
O’Keefe excused the juror, and an alternate was sworn in a short time later. They received instructions to "begin deliberations anew" to catch the juror up to speed.
The California Polytechnic State University student was 19 when she went missing while walking home from a party in 1996.
Last year, the 81-year-old and his son, Paul Flores, 45, were arrested and charged with her disappearance.
Paul Flores is accused of murdering Smart, while Ralph Flores is charged as an accessory for allegedly helping Paul dispose of her body.
Thursday marked the first day that both juries deliberated since last Friday. The court was dark the first three days of the week due to a previously planned break.
Smart's body has never been found.
If convicted, Paul Flores faces a sentence of 25 years to life, while Ruben Flores faces a maximum sentence of three years in jail.