Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

October 23, 1995: Defence Closing Arguments

Judge Westergren asked if there were any matters before the court heard closing arguments.

Doug Tinker: Looking through the exhibits, other than presenting the briefcase we are all right. I object to a lot of notes. My recollection they were objected to during court session. My request this time is to reopen arguments and evidence by Yolanda Saldivar because she told Paul Rivera that the gun was waved by her, that she did not have a lawyer, after statement she tells him that he left out accident. When she said that it was an accident, he told her that it was too late.

Mike Skurka: Everything was introduced without any objections, including the tapes and handwritten notes. They were admitted per the judge.

Tinker: I request instructions regarding involuntary and specific intent where the court should allow the facts of the case.

Judge Westergren: I refuse request nos. 2-5.

Tinker: I object that the court refused to look at these.

Patricia Saum: Your honor, the State should not be permitted to bring in embezzlement. Abraham Quintanilla was allowed to say he had suspicion but we were not allowed to question him. Yolanda Saldivar was denied her rights because we were not able to review those records. Not one document had anything to do with the Selena franchise.

Skurka: The State will not refer to it before the jury.

Judge: (The attorneys argued about who would begin closing arguments). If no opening then no argument.

Carlos Valdez: It is still our position that there is no law requiring us to open.

Judge: Y'all will begin the argument. (talking to defense)

Tinker: Allow us 5 minutes to set up.

Judge: We are ready for the jury. Instructions were read. In summation they are as follows:

If you find that the shooting was intentional, you must find the defendant guilty of murder by shooting Selena Quintanilla Perez.

If you have reasonable doubt, you must acquit the defendant.

If you find the defendant guilty of murder there must have been an intent or that she knowingly caused the death of Selena Quintanilla Perez.

A written statement of an accused may be used against her if the statement is signed by the accused or in her handwriting, she have a right to remain silent, if there is any reasonable doubt, you will not consider the statement.

A defendant may testify if she elects to do so, you can not review to this fact throughout your deliberations.

The prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Verdicts reached must be anonymous.

State waives its right to begin closing.

Fred Hagans: You have been paying close attention to the evidence in this case. The one thing we looked for from each of you was courage. Not just promises that you could return a verdict. Courage is what each of you share.

Yolanda Saldivar is not guilty of murder. This was a tragic mistake. Yolanda Saldivar suffers from this loss. The State can not prove beyond a reasonable doubt because they did not think through their tactics. The State did not think about Ranger Garza's testimony saying it was a accident. They brought evidence creating a reasonable doubt because the tape showed Yolanda Saldivar saying "I did not mean to shoot her, I did not mean to do it."

The State brought extremely good helpful testimony to Yolanda Saldivar and extremely damaging evidence to the prosecution. Look at Joe Claire, stuck by what he said in his report and that was that Yolanda Saldivar said she did not mean to shoot her, saying she did not intent to shoot her. He said something else, he said I believe she wanted to go see the victim at the hospital.

Another witness brought some important information. Yolanda Saldivar did not have a prior record. Mike McDonald said the ammunition Yolanda Saldivar used was suggested by him, and that he showed her the basic operation of the gun. He said it takes less pressure to turn off a light switch then it does to fire a weapon. Mike McDonald said there are accidental discharges in the firing range where bullet holes are seen in the ceiling and walls from misfirings.

Then there is Larry Young. He said on numerous occasions, before taping she said I did not mean to harm her. He said there should be an investigation of her admission, the police department.

Paul Rivera thought Ranger Garza had left the area because he had sent him out before taking Yolanda Saldivar's statement. He was very surprised to find out that he had heard her said it was an accident before she hesitated to sign the statement. Paul Rivera never talked to Larry Young. He knew he had the tapes but he never went to get them.

Lt. Hernandez took photographs of the bruises on Yolanda Saldivar saying those bruises were a couple of days old, consistent with what Yolanda Saldivar said had happened.

Shawna Vela's statement on the stand was completely different from what her original statement before that she gave to police and the 911 tape. Her testimony is inconsistent with everything and everybody else's.

Sandra (last name unintelligible), she said she saw a woman chasing Selena and the woman had bleached blonde hair. She contradicted Norma Martinez and Gloria (last name unintelligible). Gloria (last name unintelligible) has blond bleached hair.

Norma Martinez and Trinidad Espinoza could not see what they said they saw from where they were standing because of the bushes which were not taken in the photo shown to the jury.

Daniel, CPA of all Selena's enterprises was never asked to testify because the prosecution could not prove that there was embezzlement.

Selena took Yolanda Saldivar to the doctor that morning to see about her bruises, suggested to take her to Austin, stroked her hair, skipped her recording session to be with her, now is that consistent with someone being fired or mad?

Doug Tinker's closing

Tinker: Each of you assured me that Yolanda Saldivar was not guilty, you looked at her. No one exhibited any warmth toward Yolanda Saldivar, except Larry Young, he look at her and just smiled.

Ranger Garza was not a volunteer witness, he hated to testify against his longtime friend Paul Rivera.

Officer Torres said the red truck was traveling slowly, just like Yolanda Saldivar said. There was no police car when she pulled over.

What is the prosecutor going to say about the wallet of Yolanda Saldivar's in Selena's purse that she had in her purse when she was running toward the lobby? What are they going to say about the ring that fell out of Selena's hand on the way to the hospital?

When you have an inexperienced person handling the gun, it can be an accident. Do note that Abraham Quintanilla is the one making statements about the theft and not Selena. Even though Yolanda sent a letter of resignation to Selena on March 13, Selena received it on March 15 but Selena did not want Yolanda Saldivar to quit and they went to Mexico on March 16th. Evidence was found in the purses that they went to Mexico together. Yolanda Saldivar purchased the gun because she had a confrontation with Abraham Quintanilla and she was scared.

By the way, it was me who got those tapes from the chief. If it was not for those tapes, Yolanda Saldivar would already be on her way to the penitentiary.