Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Saldivar's rape story challenged by witnesses

Some had never heard of singer

By MICHAEL GRACZYK Associated Press Writer Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

2:47 PM 10/12/1995

Tejano singing star Selena told her manicurist the day before her slaying that she was planning to dismiss the woman who now is on trial for shooting her, the manicurist testified Thursday. Testimony in the murder trial of Yolanda Saldivar, 35, focused on the hours leading to the shooting of 23-year-old Selena Quintanilla Perez. Manicurist Celia Soliz said Selena expressed concern about shoddy record-keeping in the non-music businesses run in part by Saldivar, and told her the night of March 30th, while getting her nails done, that she planned to fire Saldivar. "She was very upset," said Soliz, who works at Selena Etc., the singer's Corpus Christi boutique. Soliz said she even followed the singer home that night because "I was worried about her."

The same evening, Saldivar, toting a corporate American Express card belonging to Selena Etc., checked into a Days Inn in Corpus Christi -- the same motel where Selena was fatally shot. Desk clerk Blanca Padilla said she was surprised at the "sloppy" appearance of Saldivar, who said she was in town on business but showed up wearing a white T-shirt with a brown fringe and cow design. She said she would have expected someone working for Selena, known for her exquisite outfits, to be dressed better.

Asked by Nueces County District Attorney Carlos Valdez if Saldivar appeared frightened or hurt or had bruises, Padilla replied, "No sir." "She looked tired," she said. But hours later, on March 31, a supervisor at Doctors Regional Medical Center in Corpus Christi said Selena and a sullen Saldivar showed up at the emergency room for treatment because Saldivar reported she had been raped the previous day in Mexico by two men. "I didn't see any evidence to indicate that she had been assaulted," Patricia Biggs, the hospital's emergency room supervisor, testified. Saldivar, dressed in a fuchsia jacket and white shirt, showed no reaction to the testimony Thursday.

The days before Selena's death were hectic for the Grammy-winner, who was trying to assemble business records to prepare for tax filing. Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., her husband, Chris Perez, and sister, Suzette Quintanilla Arriaga, all testified Wednesday they had concerns about problems with Saldivar's bookkeeping. "There were some papers missing, bank statements, boutique daily sales reports," Debra Ramirez, who was helping Selena organize the paperwork, testified Thursday. "Yolanda had them." Asked about Selena's reaction to the missing records, Ramirez said, "She was upset, kind of irritated."

Later March 31, as Selena met with Saldivar to retrieve business records, she was shot. Saldivar admitted to the shooting after a more than nine-hour standoff with police. Prosecutors contend the slaying was premeditated. Defense attorneys argue the killing was an accident and that Saldivar's claims that it was accidental were left out of her confession by police.

Conviction on the murder charge could get Saldivar, who rose from a Selena groupie to president of the singer's fan club and overseer of boutiques and salons, a punishment of up to life in prison.