Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

October 23, 1995: Sentencing Hearing

Doug Tinker: One witness that I want to make sure is here.

Mike Skurka gave the judge three cases directly related to probation regarding why Yolanda Saldivar should not be let out on probation.

Doug Tinker: I want to request that counsel include probation in instructions to jurors.

Judge Westergren: I am going to give y'all 30 minutes each. You can live with that can't you.

Carlos Valdez: I would rather have 40 minutes.

Doug Tinker: I can live with 20 minutes.

Doug Tinker: (Statement to the jurors) You are here now to decide what sentence that Yolanda Saldivar should receive. Your decision in that regard is final. Whatever it is that is what it is going to be. The prosecution should and will tell you to consider all other evidence. Either side can call witnesses to help you decide what sentence Yolanda should receive. You can fairly approve probation. She has never been convicted of anything that makes her ineligible for probation. We will bring a probation officer to help you understand the probation rules.

We will bring other witnesses to show you that Yolanda Saldivar has been a person of good reputation, a warm personality, helping people financially. Yolanda's minister is here, people she has worked with. Probably the last witness will be her father. The likelihood of her surviving in the penitentiary is small.

Dr. Faustino Gomez testifies

Skurka: State you name and occupation.

Gomez: I am a self-employed physician in San Antonio.

Skurka: Education

Gomez: I have a degree in medicine, 1 year internship, 2 years training in dermatology at the Cleveland Metropolitan Hospital.

Skurka: Where is you office located?

Gomez: San Antonio

Skurka: How long?

Gomez: 30 years

Fred Hagans: In 1990 through 1995, weren't you intimately involved with Yolanda Saldivar?

Gomez: No

Hagans: Okay how about 1985 to 1990 you were intimately acquainted with Yolanda Saldivar?

Gomez: No.

Carmen Cedillo comes as a character witness for the defense.

Doug Tinker: Tell the ladies and gentlemen you name.

Cedillo: Carmen Cedillo

Doug Tinker: Where do you live?

Cedillo: San Antonio

Doug Tinker: How long?

Cedillo: 42 years

Doug Tinker: Are you married?

Cedillo: Yes

Doug Tinker: What does your husband do?

Cedillo: Electrician

Doug Tinker: What is your occupation:

Cedillo: Service manager of nursing homes.

Doug Tinker: How long?

Cedillo: For 15 years.

Doug Tinker: What do you think of the Saldivar family?

Cedillo: They are very united.

Doug Tinker: How did you get involved with her family?

Cedillo: My husband attended high school with Yolanda's brothers.

Doug Tinker: You see Yolanda on a regular basis?

Cedillo: Yes, we would go where they live and have cookouts.

Doug Tinker: Tell the jury the kind of person Yolanda Saldivar is.

Cedillo: She is beautiful and caring. She would take kids to eat, attend church, pick up kids and take to church with her.

Doug Tinker: There is no question that you are a close friend of Yolanda?

Cedillo: Yes

Skurka: you never saw Yolanda Saldivar on March 31, 1995 did you?

Cedillo: No

Skurka: There isn't nothing you can tell the court about what happened that day?

Cedillo: No

Juanita Galaviz takes the stand as a character witness.

Doug Tinker: Tell the ladies and gentlemen your name.

Galaviz: Gallivis

Doug Tinker: Where do you live?

Galaviz: San Antonio

Doug Tinker: Are you married?

Galaviz: No, single.

Doug Tinker: Where are you employed?

Galaviz: Nursing, I have a certificate.

Doug Tinker: How long?

Galaviz: Since 1986.

Doug Tinker: What kind of certificate.

Galaviz: Bachelor in nursing.

Doug Tinker: So you're educated in nursing?

Galaviz: Yes, I've done 8 years as nursing.

Doug Tinker: Do you know Yolanda Saldivar?

Galaviz: Yes

Doug Tinker: How long?

Galaviz: Since 1987.

Doug Tinker: What is your relationship?

Galaviz: Friends. We met in the emergency room, Bear County in the emergency room in 1987.

Doug Tinker: Friends but not related. In addition to working with her, have you become friends?

Galaviz: We were patrons of the salon.

Doug Tinker: Have you seen Yolanda Saldivar work with a nurse?

Galaviz: No, just in the hospital. She is loyal, dedicated and worked along side other nurses, she comforted people. She was extremely reliable.

Doug Tinker: Tell the jury what all the knowledge you have regarding Yolanda Saldivar.

Galaviz: She is loyal, trustworthy, reliable, with confidence that it would be done kind to patients, person interested at heart. Never had any complaints. I had all the confidence in the world in her.

Valdez: Did you know how Yolanda Saldivar handled money?

Galaviz: Just specific forms for patient's valuables and Yolanda would take care of them.

Valdez: What about any money payments?

Galaviz: No, she didn't handle any money.

Valdez: Once you put things in her hands you did not have to worry?

Galaviz: No sir.

Next character witness.

Doug Tinker: Tell the jurors you name.

Fernando Saldivar: Fernando Saldivar

Doug Tinker: Where do you live.

F. Saldivar: San Antonio

Doug Tinker: Where is you occupation?

F. Saldivar: Audio Mercury Hospital.

Doug Tinker: How long?

F. Saldivar: Since 1975

Doug Tinker: What did you do before?

F. Saldivar: In the marines for 4 years as a Sergeant.

Doug Tinker: What kind of work did you do?

F. Saldivar: Drill sergeant, traveled overseas, Taiwan, Korea.

Doug Tinker: How old are you?

F. Saldivar: 43

Doug Tinker: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

F. Saldivar: Seven of us.

Doug Tinker: Is Yolanda the youngest?

F. Saldivar: Yes

Doug Tinker: What kind of a person is she?

F. Saldivar: Hardworking person, willing to help anybody anytime. She helped in numerous fund-raisers.

Doug Tinker: You understand she has been convicted of murder, would you help her if the jury gave her probation?

F. Saldivar: Yes sir.

Doug Tinker: What would you say to the jury to convince them to give her probation?

F. Saldivar: There has been a tragedy, she is an asset to the community, she has always done that, she has a lot of education and everything she has she will give back to the community.

Skurka: Nothing for the witness.

Next character witness, Delfino Neira III)

Doug Tinker: State your name.

Neira: Delfino Neira III

Doug Tinker: Where do you live?

Neira: San Antonio

Doug Tinker: What is you occupation?

Neira: Technician

Doug Tinker: Where?

Neira: Veterans Hospital.

Doug Tinker: How long?

Neira: 20 years.

Doug Tinker: What do you do at Veterans Hospital?

Neira: Dispose of medical waste for the hospital.

Doug Tinker: Prior to going to work for the hospital, what did you do?

Neira: 4 years for the US Marine Corps

Doug Tinker: You know Yolanda Saldivar?

Neira: Yes

Doug Tinker: What is you and her brothers relationship?

Neira: Back in junior high, since we were 16 years old.

Doug Tinker: During all those years, did you come to know Yolanda Saldivar?

Neira: Yes

Doug Tinker: By the way, are you married?

Neira: Yes

Doug Tinker: How many children do you have?

Neira: Three boys.

Doug Tinker: How many years have you been around her?

Neira: We were always getting together, at least once or twice a month.

Doug Tinker: You feel like you know her very well?

Neira: Yes

Doug Tinker: How do you feel about her?

Neira: In my own words, she has always been a very caring person, very respectful. I have never yet known of any circumstances where she has done anything out of the ordinary.

Doug Tinker: Would you welcome her in your home if she was granted probation?

Neira: Yes

Valdez: You said you used to get together once or twice per month?

Neira: Yes

Valdez: Did you see her any other time?

Neira: Sometimes she would come over to the house.

Valdez: Many times you were not with her.

Neira: Not 24 hours a day.

Valdez: To be fair to the jury, there were more times that you did not see her isn't it?

Neira: Yes

Valdez: Do you remember the last time that you saw Yolanda Saldivar before March 31, 1995?

Neira: The very last time was, because were invited to the Selena Reunion, was sometime in 1994, maybe summer of 1994.

Valdez: Did you see Yolanda Saldivar on March 31st?

Neira: No.

Valdez: You can't tell the jury about anything that happened that day.

Neira: No

Ernestina Jaramillo takes the stand as a character witness.

Doug Tinker: State your name:

Jaramillo: Ernestine Carleo

Doug Tinker: What kind of work do you do?

Jaramillo: Rehabilitation in San Antonio

Doug Tinker: What do you do

Jaramillo: Physical therapist helping people to get better physically.

Doug Tinker: What kind of work does your husband do?

Jaramillo: Bottling company.

Doug Tinker: What is your relationship to Yolanda Saldivar?

Jaramillo: She is my aunt.

Doug Tinker: Tell me over the years have you been around here on numerous or few occasions?

Jaramillo: Numerous

Doug Tinker: What circumstances allowed you to be around Yolanda?

Jaramillo: Everyday. I lived with her.

Doug Tinker: Tell us something about the home, does it provide for the family?

Jaramillo: Very loving and caring, good morals, loving and caring environment.

Doug Tinker: Had you continued to be around Yolanda until she went to jail?

Jaramillo: Yes

Doug Tinker: Tell the jury about how you feel about Yolanda.

Jaramillo: She is a very loving and caring person. She was always there for me. When I needed someone to talk to, she was there. She guided me.

Doug Tinker: Do you know that the jury is here to decide what her punishment should be. Would you welcome here in your home?

Jaramillo: Yes.

Skurka: You knew the defendant because she is your aunt?

Jaramillo: Yes

Skurka: She got you a job at the boutique.

Jaramillo: Yes

Skurka: She was your boss?

Jaramillo: My supervisor.

Skurka: You did not see anything that the defendant did on March 31st?

Jaramillo: No sir.

Skurka: You cant tell the jury anything?

Jaramillo: No.

Maria Mendoza takes the stand as a character witness.

Doug Tinker: Tell the jurors you name:

Mendoza: Maria Mendoza

Doug Tinker: How old are you?

Mendoza: 23 years old.

Doug Tinker: Where are you employed?

Mendoza: Telemarketing firm.

Doug Tinker: How long?

Mendoza: Two and one-half years

Doug Tinker: Are you related to Yolanda Saldivar?

Mendoza: She is my aunt.

Doug Tinker: How's that?

Mendoza: My mom is her sister.

Doug Tinker: How did you see Yolanda growing up?

Mendoza: I watched Yolanda go to school, high school, watched here study. She has helped me out on many occasions. Yolanda helped me out with paperwork.

Doug Tinker: Did there come a time when you would travel with Yolanda to Mexico?

Mendoza: Yes

Doug Tinker: Were you with her when a car followed her to Monterey in February?

Mendoza: Yes, it was on March 20th. She was terrified.

Doug Tinker: Is that the only trip you made to Monterey?

Mendoza: Yes

Doug Tinker: What kind of lady is she?

Mendoza: She is a law abiding citizen. She has taught me a lot of ways to be mature and get an education.

Doug Tinker: Do you love Yolanda very much.

Mendoza: Yes

Doug Tinker: Would you be glad to have her home?

Mendoza: Yes

Valdez: I am interested in this March 20 trip. A car followed you all the way from San Antonio to Mexico?

Mendoza: Yes

Valdez: When did you talk to the police?

Mendoza: We did not talk to a police. I just told her to keep going.

Valdez: Who did you report it to?

Mendoza: Nobody.

Valdez: They followed y'all all the way to the hotel?

Mendoza: Yes

Valdez: Did they check into the hotel too?

Mendoza: Yes

Valdez: How many people were there?

Mendoza: The tint was so dark, I could not see.

Valdez: What kind of car?

Mendoza: A 5th Avenue, dark blue.

Valdez: What time of day or night did you travel to Monterey?

Mendoza: We left early and got there late in the evening.

Valdez: Since it was so dark you can't tell the jury if it was men or women?

Mendoza: When we parked on the side, it parked length away, kept a distance.

Valdez: You were going to see that they were men?

Mendoza: I could see at a distance that they were men.

Valdez: Did they have guns?

Mendoza: No, I did not see that.

Valdez: Were you with your aunt when she killed Selena. Can you tell us anything about that day?

Mendoza: No, I was running errands.

Valdez: You can't tell us anything about that day?

Mendoza: No not until I got home.

Mario Salazar Jr., probation officer takes the stand

Doug Tinker: State your name.

Salazar: Mario Salazar

Doug Tinker: What is your occupation?

Salazar: Probation Officer

Doug Tinker: Where?

Salazar: Harris County, Houston

Doug Tinker: How long?

Salazar: 15 years

Doug Tinker: What is the probation program used for?

Salazar: It is secondary to sending a person to prison. The person reports to a probation officer who keeps tabs on there whereabouts and ascertains that they are being productive and not getting into more trouble.

Skurka: Tell us what else the program does. If after committing a crime does the person get to go free.

Salazar: That person on probation basically have one foot free and the other one in prison.

Skurka: Does probation stop a person from committing any more crimes?

Salazar: No

Skurka: Can you stop them from doing a crime?

Salazar: There is no way.

Frank Saldivar, the defendant's father takes the stand.

Doug Tinker: Please state your name for the jury.

F. Saldivar: Frank Saldivar

Doug Tinker: How have you become to know Yolanda?

F. Saldivar: She is my youngest daughter.

Doug Tinker: How many children do you have?

F. Saldivar: Seven kids.

Doug Tinker: How many years have you been married?

F. Saldivar: 47 years married.

Doug Tinker: What kind of business do you do?

F. Saldivar: I have been in the restaurant business all my life, supervising, some 40 years in Mexican restaurants.

Doug Tinker: When did you start?

F. Saldivar: In 1955.

Doug Tinker: Do you still work in the restaurant business?

F. Saldivar: I retired but I stay around to supervise.

Doug Tinker: Do you own acres of land.

F. Saldivar: Yes, I have lived on the acres of land for 18 years.

Doug Tinker: What kind of work does your son do?

F. Saldivar: I really don't know, he moved away and I don't know.

Doug Tinker: How many grandchildren do you have?

F. Saldivar: Eleven or 13.

Doug Tinker: Do you own homes?

F. Saldivar: We have 3 homes.

Doug Tinker: Where does Yolanda fit in as far as your children are concerned:

F. Saldivar: Yolanda is our youngest daughter.

Doug Tinker: Do you love your daughter?

F. Saldivar: Everybody knows how to love a daughter who has been good to mother and father, this the only heart I have.

Doug Tinker: What would you like to say to the jury?

F. Saldivar: Ask the jury if they know God, raise you hand.

Doug Tinker: I am sorry Mr. Saldivar, but you can't ask the jury questions?

F. Saldivar: Oh I am sorry I didn't know.

Doug Tinker: Go ahead.

F. Saldivar: I hope some of y'all have sons and daughters and y'all believe in God. Don't forget your conscious. As long as you believe in that you will have to know me and I know you. That is all we can do. Everyone of us should not forget. No matter what relationship you bring in, there is only one Bible. God bless you, (sighs, sobs) and we have lost two lives. So that is all. Thank you.

Judge: Do y'all plan to go right into arguments?

Doug Tinker: Give us a chance to object.

Skurka: We are ready to go anytime the Judge is ready.

Doug Tinker: Request the issue concerning theft be included in instructions to jury.

Valdez: I object.

Judge: I am refusing. We will reconvene until 12:30.