Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Friday, October 13: Testimony of Shawna Vela

Court resumed 8:30 a.m.

Editor's note: Rosalinda Gonzales and Ruben Deleon were the first two witnesses on Thursday, but their testimony is not included here.

Third Witness (prosecution)

Valdez: Good Morning! Are you nervous?

Vela: Yes sir.

Valdez: That's O.K. Everything will be all right. Please state your name.

Vela: Shawna Vela

Valdez: Where do you live?

Vela: In Houston

Valdez: How long have you lived in Houston?

Vela: Since May, 1995

Valdez: Where did you live before you moved to Houston?

Vela: Driscoll, Texas

Valdez: Is that a little town near Corpus?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: How long had you been in the Corpus area?

Vela: I was born in Corpus Christi

Valdez: You were born in Corpus?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: Did you ever work at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: When?

Vela: February, March and April of this year.

Valdez: Do you remember an incident that occurred on the day of March 31, 1995?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: What was your position at the Days Inn Motel?

Vela: Desk Clerk

Valdez: What were your duties as desk clerk?

Vela: Basically checking guests in and out, answering phone calls and providing information for guests.

Valdez: And you had been working there approximately 2-1/2 months?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: Were you working at the motel on March 31, 1995

Vela: Yes

Valdez: With reference to the incident that you stated you recalled, what time did this take place?

Vela: Between 11:30 and 12:00 a.m.

Valdez: What were you doing?

Vela: I was checking out a gentleman.

Valdez: And, what happened?

Vela: I was standing in the lobby, near the door, the closest one to the entry.

Valdez: Do you see the diagram showing the lobby interior?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: Have you ever seen this diagram before - do you recognize this diagram?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: Tell me what it is.

Vela:(Pointing to diagram) This is the area of the lobby.

Valdez: And that is the desk?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: And where were you standing.

Vela: Right here (pointing to area).

Valdez: What were you doing while you were standing there?

Vela: I was checking out a guest.

Valdez: And, what happened?

Vela: I was checking out the guest and a lady came running into the entrance and was asking for help.

Valdez: Did you recognize the lady?

Vela: Not at first.

Valdez: Did you later find out that it was Selena Quintanilla Perez?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: What was she saying when she came into the lobby area?

Vela: She was saying "help me, please help me".

Valdez: Did you respond?

Vela: Yes, I asked her "help you do what"?

Valdez: Then what did she say?

Vela: Help, me, please - I have been shot! I said "You've been shot?", and she said "yes".

Valdez: Did she say anything else?

Vela: She ran over to this area (witness pointed to area on diagram)

Valdez: Did you see any blood on her?

Vela: Yes, when she said "I have been shot" she turned and put her arms down and that is when I saw the blood.

Valdez: After that what did she do? Are you all right? (Vela had begun to cry.)

Valdez: After that happened, you said she ran somewhere and what did she then do.

Vela: She ran into a room and laid down.

Valdez: Where?

Vela: (Pointing to the diagram) Here.

Valdez: (Pointing to the diagram) Here at this point.

Vela: Yes, she lay down or fell down, I don't really know which.

Valdez: Was anyone else around this area?

Vela: Yes, the manager.

Valdez: What were you doing?

Vela: I was talking to 911.

Valdez: What did you tell the operator at 911?

Vela: I told her as much as I could

Valdez: After you hung up what happened?

Vela: I received a phone call from a guest and then I called 911 again.

Valdez: Why did you call 911 again?

Vela: Because my manager had already called and she had only said that we had a shooting. I did not know that she had called.

Valdez: Then what did you do?

Vela: I went over to where Selena was.

Valdez: Was Selena at that time lying down?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: What were you asking her?

Vela: I knelt down to her and asked who shot her. She said "Yolanda , Room 158". I went to the box and got all the information about #158.

Valdez: Did you give this information to 911?

Vela: Yes sir.

Valdez: What kind of information did you have?

Vela: The name, credit card which she had used, the license plate number of the vehicle.

Valdez: After you talked to 911, what did you do?

Vela: I figured that I had given them all the information and we were getting towels for her so we could wipe up the blood.

Valdez: Who all was there with you?

Vela: Rosalinda, Ruben, my boss and (the last name was intelligible)

Valdez: Did you hear her say anything else?

Vela: No

Valdez: Did you hear her say who the woman was in Room 158?

Vela: Yes, she said "Yolanda"

Valdez: What else did she say? (Witness began to cry).

Vela: She said "lock the door, lock the door".

Valdez: Who said that?

Vela: Selena said that.

Valdez: Before she went in?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: Why did she say that?

Vela: She said "she will shoot me again!

Valdez: Did you hear anything else?

Vela: (could not hear her answer)

Valdez: Did you say anything about locking the door in your statement ?

Vela: I don't think so.

Valdez: Why did you not include that in your statement?

Vela: Everything was really confusing. We could not leave, we could not go outside, we could not do anything.

Valdez: How was the lobby?

Vela: Oh, it was torn up

Valdez: Are you feeling better now?

Vela: Yes

Valdez: You have had time to reflect about this and you feel better?

Vela: Yes sir.

Valdez: Let's go back to when you were talking to 911, did you get anything on the car Yolanda was driving?

Vela: Yes.

Valdez: What kind was it?

Vela: It was a red pickup truck.

Valdez: What happened a little while after the shooting?

Vela: I received a call from another guest who saw someone running away. She wanted to know what was going on. She said she saw someone running fast toward a truck and the police all around and she wanted to know what was happening.

Valdez: The police officers came and parked - where?

Vela: (Pointed to diagram and marked the area where the police were parked)

Valdez: Could you see the truck from where you were?

Vela: There is a window right here (pointing to the diagram). You could see the red truck through that window.

Valdez: Did I instruct you in your testimony or what you were to say regarding this case?

Vela: (answer unintelligible)

Valdez: That is all I have for this witness, your Honor.

Interrogation by Defense: (Douglas Tinker)

Tinker: I am going o ask you a few questions, O.K.?

Vela: Yes sir

Tinker: We saw each other before the trial, is that not so?

Vela: Yes sir

Tinker: Let me ask you one question before we get into this - there were five (5) people in the room, including yourself, with Selena. Rosalinda, Ruben, Barbara Shult and you manager?

Valdez: Yes

Tinker: When Selena was coming through the door, show me (pointing to the diagram) where you were.

Vela: She points to diagram and says "here".

Tinker: Show me where Ruben was.

Vela: (Points to diagram and says) "he was in there".

Tinker: When was that?

Vela: When she came through the door.

Tinker: Where was Barbara?

Vela: I don't remember.

Tinker: She could have been in her office?

Vela: Yes

Tinker: Where was Rosalinda?

Vela: Behind the counter.

Tinker: Behind the counter with you?

Vela: Yes

Tinker: When you knelt down by Selena, was anyone kneeling there with you?

Vela: Rosie was there also, kneeling also.

Tinker: Do you remember where Mr. Deleon was?

Vela: Yes, he was standing by her side.

Tinker: You call Rosalinda "Rosie"

Vela: Yes

Tinker: Rosalinda would have been about as close to Selena as you were?

Vela: Yes sir

Tinker: And Mr. Deleon would have been as close as you were?

Vela: I am not sure.

Tinker: If he was kneeling with you by Selena, both of those folks would have heard what you heard, is that correct?

Vela: I do not know.

Tinker: What were you doing at the time she was lying on the floor?

Vela: I was just doing anything that they asked me to do, getting towels and anything else they wanted me to do.

Tinker: Did you hear Deleon ask her any questions?

Vela: (Answer unintelligible)

Tinker: That was while all three of you were around Selena?

Vela: Yes

Tinker: You then told the police officers what you knew?

Vela: Yes

Tinker: You did not tell them about the locked door?

Vela: Afterward I did.

Tinker: But during the statement you never mentioned locking the door, did you?

Vela: No sir

Tinker: Showed here aerial photo of the Days Inn and asked her to point to where she saw the red truck parked.

Vela: Pointed to an area on the photo, which we could not see.

Tinker: You described the police officer. Please show us where you first saw him.

Vela: He pulled in right here (pointing to the diagram, and described where the police car was parked. She said " you could see that other police cars were coming.

Tinker: Did you stay after your shift was over?

Vela: Yes

Tinker: Did the police officers ask you to stay?

Vela: They did not ask me to stay or leave. I had no choice. They had a swat team there and other officers and you could not come or go.

Tinker: Did you talk to anyone at the scene or did anyone ask you any details about what happened?

Vela: I went to the police station and they asked me questions and then they brought me back.

Tinker: Who did you talk to at the station?

Vela: I do not know exactly. It was Garrett, or something like that.

Tinker: When you were at the station did Mr. Garrett ask you to tell them anything about this case that day

Vela: Yes

Tinker: I have no other questions, Your Honor.

Judge: We will take our morning recess and resume in 15 minutes

(Recessed: 10:00 a.m. - Resumed 10:15 a.m.)