Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Defense in Selena case denies retribution


Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

CORPUS CHRISTI -- A defense attorney claimed Monday that Tejano superstar Selena made her fateful trip to the Corpus Christi hotel where she was shot to death to confide in her former fan club president and longtime employee about a feud she was having with her father.

Douglas Tinker did not mention the specifics of the alleged conflict between Selena and her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr. But his comments offered the first public glimpse into his planned defense of Yolanda Saldivar, 34, who is charged with the March 31 murder at the Days Inn hotel.

"I hope to show there was conflict between Mr. Quintanilla and his daughter and my client was a confidant," Tinker argued. "The reason they met at the hotel was Selena did not want her father to know she was confiding" in Saldivar.

Later, Tinker added: "There's an insinuation that Selena was out there to fire Yolanda, which we say is not true."

Tinker refused to elaborate after the hearing.

Selena's family has said Saldivar was fired the night before the murder for stealing more than $30,000 from the fan club and several of the star's business enterprises, and that Selena went back the next morning to retrieve some business records from Saldivar.

Tinker said Monday he will show there was no embezzlement. But he said he needs family financial records to prove it.

State District Judge Mike Westergren, after hearing two days of testimony, said he would rule today on a defense motion to move the trial away from Corpus Christi because of widespread publicity.

Selena, whose full name was Selena Quintanilla-Perez, was 23 when she was gunned down in a hallway of a local hotel after meeting with Saldivar. Many believe she was poised to transcend the Tejano music circuit to become a huge pop star. Sales of her first English-language album, released last month, seem to bear that out.

Tinker, while questioning the news director of a Spanish-language television network, asked how many people in Beaumont had listened to extensive coverage of the murder. The executive said he did not know.

During a recess, Tinker was asked if he thought Beaumont would be a good venue for the murder trial. "That's all right, anywhere but here where these prejudiced people are," he said.

The judge today also will consider a defense motion to suppress a statement Saldivar gave to Corpus Christi police after she was arrested in the parking lot of the hotel. Local camera crews recorded the long standoff between Saldivar and police, a nine-hour ordeal in which Saldivar held a pistol to her head several times and threatened suicide.

Tinker asked the judge to enforce his subpoena of a wide array of financial records belonging to Selena, the family recording business run by her father, clothing boutiques and the singer's fan club to prove his client was not stealing from the family.

Tony Canales, a well-known South Texas criminal defense attorney hired by the Quintanilla family, argued their extensive business records were not relevant to Saldivar's defense. He agreed to turn some of the fan club records over to the court for inspection.

Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez also fought the request for the Quintanilla family records. "Everything he's asking for is one gigantic fishing expedition. He's trying to get information he can use later for a defense." Valdez told the judge. "It's broad, it's ponderous, it's harassing."

"It's the defendant, acting through her attorney, to visit more grief on the family, and that shouldn't be allowed."