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
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
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
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."