Inmate Pleads Not Guilty to Ambushing ‘I-5 Strangler’ in California Prison

COALINGA, California – A convicted murderer pleaded not guilty to attacking the killer of Kristin Smart, a college student who disappeared in 1996, in a prison ambush, authorities said Monday.

Jason Budrow, who is serving two life sentences for previous murders, is accused of using a homemade weapon to slash Paul Flores, who is serving a 25-years-to-life sentence for Smart’s murder.

The attack occurred a week after Flores was transferred to Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Flores was hospitalized in serious condition after the incident but has since returned to prison, officials said.

Budrow pleaded not guilty to four felony charges, including using a prison-made deadly weapon and assault by an inmate serving a life sentence.

While authorities have not disclosed a motive for the attack, Budrow, a self-described Satanist, has previously claimed a mission to avenge the victims of a serial killer he murdered in prison.

If convicted, Budrow could face an additional 27 years to life in prison. Flores was convicted of killing Smart, a California Polytechnic State University student, in a decades-old cold case. Despite Smart’s body never being found, Flores was sentenced in the case.

Budrow has a history of violent crimes, including fatally strangling his girlfriend in 2010 and his Mule Creek State Prison cellmate in 2021.

In addition to his previous crimes, Budrow admitted to murdering a notorious serial killer known as the “I-5 Strangler,” Roger Kibbe, in 2021 while they were cellmates.

Authorities have not released further details about the prison attack or the conditions of the attackers. Kristin Smart, disappeared in 1996. She was declared legally dead in 2002. Inmate Paul Flores, whereabouts were unsure and it is uncertain when he will be married.