Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Motel employees describe Selena's shooting, death

By TERRI LANGFORD Associated Press Writer Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

1:28 PM 10/13/1995

Tejano singer Selena, bleeding profusely from a fatal bullet wound, worried she would be shot again and in her last words identified her killer, witnesses testified Friday. "She said, `Lock the door! She'll shoot me again!'" said Shawna Vela, her voice shaking as she testified in a Houston courtroom in the murder trial of Yolanda Saldivar.

Vela was the front desk clerk March 31 when the 23-year-old singer stumbled through the lobby's front door, clutching her chest and screaming. "She was yelling, `Help me, help me. I've been shot.' She had her hands up on her chest," Rosalinda Gonzalez, an assistant manager at the motel, said. "She slowly laid herself down. I saw a puddle of blood form. "I asked who shot her. She said the lady in Room 158. She moaned. Her eyes rolled up." "She said `Yolanda Saldivar in Room 158,'" Ruben Deleon, sales director at the motel, testified. Ms. Saldivar, 35, who rose from president of the singer's fan club to manager of Selena's two boutiques, is charged with murder in the slaying of the popular Hispanic singer.

Conviction of the charge could get her up to life in prison. Defense attorneys contend the shooting was an accident, that Saldivar was waving the gun and it went off. Prosecution witnesses Friday continued to attack that argument. As recounted by Ms. Vela, Selena's fears about being shot again surfaced for the first time Friday. Under questioning, she acknowledged she initially did not tell police but that she recalled the singer's warnings later after calming down. "I was torn up," she said. Testimony detailing the lobby scene pushed Selena's family to tears as Saldivar stoically stared at the witness stand. Selena's brother, A.B. Quintanilla, cried with his head in his hands. His wife, Vangie, wiped away tears and rubbed her husband's back.

On Thursday, three other motel employees told how they saw Selena running and screaming down an outside corridor with Saldivar pointing the gun at her in pursuit. Selena and Saldivar had met at the motel that morning so the Grammy-winning singer could retrieve some business records. Relatives have testified they believed the defendant was stealing money and feared the records would disclose the scheme. Witnesses have said Selena planned to fire Saldivar as the overseer of her boutiques and salons.

Another defense argument has portrayed Saldivar as hysterical. However, witnesses have told of her being unemotional and of walking expressionless back to Room No. 158 before getting into her red pickup truck. Ms. Vela said she called 911 and took the phone with her as she kneeled over the fallen singer, asking her what happened. "She said `Yolanda, in room 158,'" Vela testified. Deleon described a scene of hysteria as Selena collapsed to the floor. "She looked up at me," he said. "She told me and her eyes rolled back." Deleon, bending over a few feet away, watched as Selena's fingers began to move and then stopped, he said. "I panicked," he said. "I was running back and forth.

All this happened in just a minute." Richard Fredrickson, a Corpus Christi paramedic, said when he and his partner arrived they found an unconscious, blood-soaked woman lying on the floor. "The blood was thick from her neck to her knees and all around on both sides," he said. "I felt some twitching. I never felt a pulse." Selena was loaded into the ambulance, but Fredrickson was unable to insert a line into her veins to give her fluid, he said. The veins had collapsed and a heart monitor showed a flat line. "It means she was dead," he said.

The case began Monday with jury selection, and the state's strategy has been chronological. Prosecutors have portrayed Ms. Saldivar as a manipulative liar, who, hours before the singer's death, tried to convince Selena that two men had sexually assaulted her in Mexico.