Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

October 13, 1995: Testimony of John Betz

Editor's note: Tony Acevedo also testified Friday, but his testimony is not included here.

The State calls John Betz.

Skurka: State you name please.

Betz: John Betz.

Skurka: Where do you work?

Betz: Corpus Christi Police Department.

Skurka: Do you recall the date March 31, 1995? Were you on duty?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: What shift?

Betz: Day shift.

Skurka: Did you respond to a call taken a little bit before 1:00pm.

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: How did that come about?

Betz: My supervisor and I were eating lunch right across the street from the Days Inn. Sergeant Flores assisted me because my back-up was about 8 miles away.

Skurka: How far did you have to go to get to the Days Inn?

Betz: About two blocks.

Skurka: What report did you get?

Betz: That there was a female down in the lobby.

Skurka: That is exhibit #9. Is this the approximate layout of the Days Inn?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: Skurka asked Officer Betz some questions from that exhibit.(Only the jury and the defense could see).

Skurka showed Officer Betz another exhibit also. Exhibit #16.

Skurka: Is this a diagram of Days Inn?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: You said when you first went to the Days Inn, you entered the lobby?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: What did you find?

Betz: Some employees came out and said that someone had shot someone.

Skurka: What did you do?

Betz: I got back into my vehicle, and at that time, a red Bronco came up.

Skurka: What did you do?

Betz: I saw it and I drove up to it and there was a male in it. I had followed it a block.

Skurka: What did you do?

Betz: I turned around and went back to the Days Inn.

Skurka: What did you do?

Betz: I got additional information. The other officer had gotten the suspect.

Skurka: Did you come in contact with that red truck?

Betz: Yes sir. The sergeant was trying to talk to the driver.

Skurka: I want to show you another exhibit. Please come down and show the jury where you first came in when you got the initial call.

Officer Betz demonstrated on the exhibit, and also pointed out his other routes.

Skurka: Were you the first police officer on the scene?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: When you got up to the red truck, what did you see?

Betz: I saw a Hispanic female in it.

Skurka: Is that the person in this courtroom?

Betz: Pointing and describing what the Defendant had on, he said yes.

Skurka: Continued to ask Officer Betz questions about the exhibit and the diagram.

Skurka: Did you notice anything that she had?

Betz: Yes sir. She had a revolver. I was about 7 feet from her.

Skurka: What did you do then?

Betz: We tried to convince her to put the weapon down.

Skurka: Were you successful?

Betz: No sir.

Skurka: Were any other uniform officers with you?

Betz: No sir.

Skurka: What happened then?

Betz: Yolanda Saldivar said that she had to make a phone call to San Antonio, and that she was going to kill her self.

Skurka: Did you see her call to get help?

Betz: No sir.

Skurka: Did she try to call 911?

Betz: No sir.

Skurka: Had Officer Betz to draw or trace a design of the scene of where the red vehicle was, his vehicle, and any other .

Skurka: Skurka states this is Exhibit 18 (another diagram) and asked Officer Betz to make another demonstration.

Prosecution rests.

Tinker: You don't type you statements, do you?

Betz: No sir. The Clerk does.

Tinker: How long have you worked on the Force?

Betz: 13 years in Corpus.

Tinker: How long in March of 1995, had you been working Patrol?

Betz: About 4 years.

Tinker: About what time did you arrive?

Betz: About 1:50pm.

Tinker: At the time that you saw the red truck, was this lady parked?

Betz: Yes sir.

Tinker: Did the other officer have the weapon drawn?

Betz: Yes sir.

Tinker: Is the window to the red pickup up or down?

Betz: Down.

Tinker: Was the lady arm outside the window?

Betz: Yes sir.

Tinker: Was Mr. Torres squatted outside the vehicle?

Betz: Yes sir.

Tinker: How close did you get to the window before you so the lady put the weapon to her head?

Betz: About 7 feet from the cab.

Tinker: Will you step down and demonstrate on this chart.

Tinker: What size truck was the pickup?

Betz: A medium size.

Tinker: Did Officer Torres tell you anything about the lady in the truck before you came up?

Betz: No sir.

Tinker: What did you hear Mr. Torres say to her?

Betz: He said put both of hands out of the window.

Tinker: What did you hear her say?

Betz: I need to make a call to San Antonio.

Tinker: Could you tell whether the weapon was cocked or not?

Betz: No sir. I could not tell anything. The back window was dark.

Tinker: Did she ever once point the weapon at you or Officer Torres?

Betz: No sir.

Tinker: How long were you there before the other Officer Patrol got there?

Betz: About 10 minutes.

Tinker: Did you hear the questions that were being asked this lady?

Betz: No sir. (Officer Betz is still standing)

Tinker: Which hand was the weapon in?

Betz: The right hand.

Tinker: Do you have a recollection of what she had said to other officers?

Betz: The only thing that o remember is that she was going to kill herself to Officer Houston, Officer Torres, and McClaire.

Tinker: Could you tell the ladies and gentlemen of the Jury her demeanor at this time?

Betz: Basically in the beginning, she had control of the situation. When she starting howling and crying is when SWAT entered into the situation. She was saying that she was going to kill herself.

Tinker: Did all of you have your weapons on, and SWAT, and when you would approach her she would get hysterical about this.

Prosecution: Objection.

Judge: Overruled.

Skurka: So you can say you were concerned with the other officers what were with you?

Betz: Yes sir.

Skurka: You kept seeing she had control of the situation? What did you mean?

Betz: Well, she did not get hysterical until SWAT moved in. She was answering questions precisely.

Skurka: That's all.

Tinker: Anything else?

Betz: She mentioned something about Selena being injured. I really don't remember.

Tinker: That's okay.

Tinker: Did you mention to her that Selena had not been injured?

Betz: No sir.

Tinker: That's all.