News that Selena's accused killer will be tried here was met with
typical Texas-style bravado by those who will have to plan for it
and wide-eyed trepidation by those who will have to carry it out.
"Chaos" was the adjective of choice among courthouse staff and
visitors who heard Wednesday that Harris County will host the most
reviled defendant in recent Texas' history.
Jury selection in the murder case against Yolanda Saldivar is
slated to begin Oct. 9 in state District Judge Ted Poe's 182-seat
Selena was shot to death in a Corpus Christi motel on March 31.
Saldivar, 34, is the founder of Selena's fan club.
Predictions about fan attendance and the resulting fallout were
countered by officials who assure that although Saldivar will
require special handling, Harris County is the place to handle her
"I don't know of anybody that is excited," said state District
Judge Doug Shaver, whose courtroom is down the hall on the same
floor as Poe's. "I don't know anyone that is really concerned. As I
see it, it is just another lawsuit."
He conceded that "an entertainer's fans may be more emotional,"
but ... "we will be prepared. We will see to it that it is business
Harris County was a logical choice, said Poe, who said he offered
his courtroom after hearing that state District Judge Mike
Westergren was seeking to move the case here.
"We have a diverse population," he said. "I think they will have
no problem finding a panel that will be fair and impartial."
His court is best suited for the trial because it has a cell with
a back entrance for prisoner security, and thorough court and
building security that includes metal detectors at the doors.
His docket is current and no other major trials were slated for
the month Westergren was interested in getting started.
Poe said his staff will work with Westergren and the expenses
incurred will be reimbursed by Nueces County.
Harris County Sheriff Department Capt. Marvin Hopkins said the
coming weeks will be spent figuring the logistics. "There will be
some things that we will just have to deal with as they come up," he
Law enforcement from all jurisdictions within and around the
courthouse will work together to keep things in control, he said.
"We have to do our job to the best of our ability," Hopkins said.
"We haven't even had a chance to talk about it."
Like Shaver, Poe is convinced the case can be handled within the
limits yet to be set by Westergren.
"The judge will have the authority to control anything that
diminishes the orderly administration of justice," he said. "That
would include people who have their own agendas for being down
"I think it's going to be a real easy transition. It's going to
be fun. It's definitely going to be real interesting," he said.