Attorneys for woman accused of Selena's murder seek move
Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle
CORPUS CHRISTI - Several attorneys and media representatives on Friday told a state district judge it would be difficult for the woman accused of slaying Tejano singer Selena to get a fair trial in Nueces County.
"In my opinion, it's not probable and just about as possible as little green men coming down from Mars," said former judge and onetime Texas Supreme Court candidate Rene Haas. She told state District Judge Mike Westergren that the trial should be moved as far as possible from Corpus Christi, the hometown of Selena Quintanilla Perez.
Selena fan club founder Yolanda Saldivar, 34, has been charged with murder in the 23-year-old singer's March 31 shooting death at a Corpus Christi motel.
Defense attorneys are asking that Saldivar's scheduled Oct. 9 trial be moved because of excessive publicity in the case.
Only the defense presented its case Friday. Testimony will resume at 1:30 p.m. Monday with the prosecution arguing why the trial should stay in Corpus Christi.
Defense attorney Douglas Tinker said Friday he was concerned that public sentiment stirred by media accounts of the slaying would make it difficult to present a self-defense case for his client.
"The public in this case got to participate in this arrest," Tinker said.
Saldivar, who had barricaded herself in a truck with a gun pointed to her head, was arrested after a 9 1/2-hour standoff with police outside a Days Inn motel. She told police at the time that she shot Selena.
"The question here is whether we would have a greater burden, and I submit we would because of the adulation of Selena," Tinker said.
He also contended that intense media coverage has created "so great a prejudice" against Saldivar that she cannot receive a fair and impartial trial in Nueces County.
District Attorney Carlos Valdez didn't argue about the amount of publicity in this case, but said he did not believe it would unnecessarily prejudice jurors against Saldivar.
"It is our position that the people of Nueces County can be just as fair as anywhere else," he said. "I can hear Mr. Tinker getting up in court in South Carolina and saying Susan Smith couldn't get a fair trial. . . . Well, she got a life sentence, judge. So she got a fair trial. There's no reason Ms. Saldivar cannot get the same."
Several attorneys called by Tinker said they doubted Nueces County residents could be impartial.
Haas outlined differences between the murder's exposure. Unlike other places where the story was carried, Nueces County residents witnessed firsthand gatherings at the shooting site, at Selena's clothing store, at her funeral and at her gravesite, he said.
Saldivar, who appeared in court, has been kept in a private cell at the Nueces County Jail since her arrest. She is being held in lieu of $200,000 bond.