Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Surgeon says Selena's emergency treatment futile

By TERRI LANGFORD Associated Press Writer Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

3:55 PM 10/19/1995

Doctors treating a mortally wounded Selena managed to re-establish a brief, erratic heartbeat, but the treatment was futile, said the physician who pronounced the Grammy-award winning Tejano singer dead last March. "She had no evidence of neurological function. There was no evidence of any blood flow to her brain. Her brain was not functioning. She was clinically brain dead," Dr. Louis Elkins testified Thursday in the murder trial of the woman accused of shooting Selena Quintanilla Perez, 23, at a Corpus Christi motel. Elkins, a cardiac surgeon, had been summoned to Corpus Christi's Memorial Medical Center just after noon on March 31 to try and save Selena. "She was extremely contused and shredded," Elkins said. "The right side of her chest, all the tissue was ripped."

Elkins said doctors made "heroic" efforts, including blood transfusions, but the damage from a .38-caliber hollow point bullet that shredded Selena's right shoulder, lung, veins and a major artery left "a massive ongoing blood loss." The testimony came as prosecutors neared completion of their murder case against Yolanda Saldivar, 35, a former fan club president for the singer. Saldivar's attorneys contend the shooting was an accident. Elkins said by the time he reached the dying woman to prepare her for surgery, an emergency room doctor had reached into Selena's chest and was manually massaging her heart.

A breathing tube was put down her throat because she had ceased breathing on her own, he said. A clamp was placed on the gushing artery in her collarbone. "She had been given blood transfusions -- six units of blood, officially by the record," Elkins said. But Elkins said as quickly as blood was pumped in, it spilled out the gaping wound. Elkins said he officially pronounced Selena dead at 1:05 p.m. "It's semantics, for legal purposes," he said. "She was dead when she arrived at the emergency room.

All attempts had failed to bring back signs of life. For legal purposes, a physician, somebody with authority, must pronounce a patient (dead)." Saldivar was expressionless throughout the testimony. Elkins' testimony about blood transfusions addressed reports that her father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., was upset with the transfusions due to his religious beliefs. Quintanilla is a Jehovah's Witness and opposes such treatment. Earlier Thursday, a Corpus Christi police evidence technician, Carlos Cardona, told of taking photographs of the crime scene and collecting evidence from the area of the shooting, including the bag Selena dropped outside the room where the shooting occurred.

Among items in the bag were 19 credit cards, three of them issued to Saldivar and three to her sister. Cardona also testified that the bed in the room where the shooting occurred was made and he had found no files there. In her written confession, Saldivar said that just before she pulled out her gun, Selena "started dumping all the files on the bed from the briefcase or handbag that I had."

Prosecutors contend the woman deliberately killed Selena when they met to discuss missing documents that would have supported family suspicions Saldivar had embezzled some $30,000 from the singer's boutiques. If convicted of murder, Saldivar could get up to life in prison.