Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

October 19, 1995: Testimony of Dr. Louis Elkins

Editor's note: Dr. Louis Elkins was the second witness for the prosecution.

Skurka: Please introduce yourself to the jury.

Elkins: My name is Dr. Louis Elkins and I moved to Houston from Corpus Christi one week ago.

Skurka: What exactly do you do?

Elkins: I do cardiovascular surgery on adults as well as children.

Skurka: How long did you work in Corpus Christi?

Elkins: For 1 1/2 years also as a pediatric and adult cardiovascular surgeon. My responsibilities included covering the emergency room and a trauma area, where the sickest patients go.

Skurka: How many trauma sections are there?

Elkins: Just one.

Skurka: Tell us your background.

Elkins: I am an undergraduate at University of Arkansas in medicine, University of Arkansas in cardiovascular and Boston, totaling 11 years of schooling. I have been licensed to practice medicine since 1986 and have a Board Certificate in Surgery for 6 months.

Skurka: On March 31, 1995, did you respond to a call for Selena Quintanilla Perez?

Elkins: I was called by the emergency at Memorial Hospital. I doctored over the care for Ms. Perez. The injury was a chest injury.

Skurka: What was her condition when you got there?

Elkins: She had no evidence of any blood flow to her brain. I examined the most deepest function of the brain, eyes were dilated, not responding to any light, she had received no medication. Pupils of eyes would not move. She was not breathing on her own; no vital signs. She had no response activity. No heart rate.

Skurka: Now the monitor may show activity but that does not mean the heart is working does it?

Elkins: No, because the monitor picks up the squeezing of the heart which continues to move even when all other vital signs are dead. Her chest was open so I could see her heart. Her response was zero and her pulse was zero.

Skurka: What was happening when you first got there?

Elkins: Med. was attempting to revive her heart.

Skurka: When you were there, was the doctor successful in trying to get the heart to beat?

Elkins: No.

Skurka: What else did you see?

Elkins: She was being mechanically ventilated, attempting to establish ways to give her medication intravenously. Her veins had collapsed.

Skurka: Emergency room doctor was squeezing the heart?

Elkins: The heart was blue and empty of blood. A normal heart looks like a fist, bright pink or red. It was empty because she had bled so much. Most of the blood she had in her body, she had lost.

Skurka: What did you do then?

Elkins: I took over the care of Ms. Perez by putting a clamp against her heart and injecting medicine into the heart to try to stimulate the heart.

Skurka: At the time, you said the left side of the chest was open, then what happened?

Elkins: After placing a clamp on her heart it began to beat erratically. Then I prepared to take her to the operating room.

Skurka: How long had she been treated?

Elkins: Twelve minute transport to the hospital and approximately 20 minutes in the emergency room.

Skurka: How long can a person live without vital signs?

Elkins: 5 to 6 minutes.

Skurka: Then what happened?

Elkins: I transported her to the operating room. I made an incision in the chest so I could locate the area of injury.

Skurka: Where was the area of injury?

Elkins: It was high over the right chest area.

Skurka: What was the condition of the victim?

Elkins: Four to five liters of blood was lost. It seemed to all be setting in the right chest area, this does not include blood from veins. This was probably her entire blood volume.

Skurka: Would it be fair to say that all blood came out into this area?

Elkins: No, it could have come from transfusions.

Skurka: What else did you see?

Elkins: The upper part of the right lung was injured.

Skurka: If she had survived the regaining of the heart beat, how would she have been today?

Elkins: In my opinion, brain dead. I tried to stop the blood loss so I could bring back her heart.

Skurka: Was her heart ever able to pump on its own?

Elkins: Only for seconds at a time. She arrived at the hospital as dead on arrival.

Skurka: Did you make the announcement of her death.

Elkins: Yes at 13:05 p.m. for legal purposes. But clinically she was dead when she arrived at the hospital.

Judge Mike Westergren: Members of the jury, we'll be recessed until 1:00 p.m. today.