Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Judge agrees witness in Selena case is qualified


Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

CORPUS CHRISTI -- A motel maid who says she witnessed the fatal shooting of Tejano singer Selena Quintanilla Perez testified Wednesday that although she has been seeing a therapist, she is not crazy. The judge in the case agreed with her.

"I was in my right mind" the day of the shooting, said Rosario Garza.

Garza, 30, may be a key witness in the murder trial of Selena's former fan club president, Yolanda Saldivar. But she has given various accounts of the shooting and how many shots were fired to the media and police.

Saldivar's attorneys want to use those discrepancies to discredit Garza on the witness stand. They also want access to any comments Garza made to her lawyer and a therapist since the shooting.

Saldivar is charged with shooting Selena once in the back as she tried to leave Room 158 of the Days Inn motel on March 31; she was arrested after a 9 ½-hour standoff in the parking lot. The trial is scheduled to begin next month in Houston because of extensive publicity in Corpus Christi.

In a pretrial hearing Wednesday, state District Judge Mike Westergren did not formally rule on Garza's ability to testify but did say he considers her competent. He said that if her attorney, Albert Huerta, would voluntarily turn over documents relating to Garza, he would personally ask Garza's therapist for the same cooperation.

Huerta, who arrived at the courthouse after the 2 ½-hour hearing ended, said he does not intend to divulge any confidential communications with his client.

Westergren ruled on a host of other matters:

* He refused to allow Court TV or Univision, the largest Spanish-language network in the United States, to televise the trial. The ruling confirms the judge's earlier statements that no cameras would be allowed in the trial.

* He denied a request from defense attorney Doug Tinker that he be allowed to interview Irene Herrera, a Selena fan club official who provided financial records to the Quintanilla family.

* He agreed to sign an order clarifying that police officers can speak with the defense team without prosecutors' being present.

* He said he would sign an order allowing Tinker to interview Dr. Ricardo Martinez, a liposuction surgeon in Monterrey, Mexico, whom Tinker says may have operated on Selena. The judge noted he had no authority to force the Mexican doctor to cooperate.

Westergren said he would decide soon whether the defense will get to see financial records Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., turned over to authorities.

Tinker has said he wants access to the records to disprove the prosecution's theory that the shooting came after Saldivar was caught embezzling from the singer's businesses and fan club.

The defense says the shooting may have been an accident.

As in previous hearings, Selena's family did not attend. Saldivar's father and other relatives sat quietly in the back of the courtroom. Saldivar, 34, has been held in Nueces County Jail on $200,000 bond since her arrest. Wearing tan slacks and a navy jacket, she sat beside Tinker during the hearing but did not speak.