Selena Forever

The Selena Trial

The Houston Chronicles Files

Nueces County calls charges for Saldivar trial excessive

By GEORGE FLYNN Copyright 1995 Houston Chronicle

7:08 PM 11/14/1995

An intercounty flap developed Tuesday over payment of $128,000 in local expenses associated with the Yolanda Saldivar murder trial. Harris County Auditor Tommy Tompkins said it was a reasonable cost for the celebrated case. But in Corpus Christi, Nueces County Judge Richard Borchard said the charges, submitted by Harris County and Houston, appear excessive. "I'm very sorry the Oilers are leaving Houston, but Nueces County is not about to provide a down payment to build a new dome,"Borchard was quoted as saying.

He complained that the expenses were not itemized, while Tompkins said he had been instructed to fax only an initial summary of costs, and that he told Nueces County further documentation would be provided if requested. "And I haven't heard a thing from them," Tompkins said. He said Nueces County was fortunate the trial, which drew national attention, lasted only three weeks. "Had it gone on longer, the expenses would be much higher," he said. On Oct. 26, Saldivar, 35, received a life sentence for the murder of Tejano singing star Selena.

The trial was moved to Houston from Corpus Christi, where Selena was killed March 31. Costs associated with the trial included $84,000 submitted by Harris County and $44,000 from Houston. Tompkins said more than 80 percent of the county expenses were for extra security, plus $2,000 for jury lodging and meals, and assorted expenses for items such as crowd-control barricades. Houston police spokesman Jack Cato said the city costs were for police officers and operation of their equipment -- horses and vehicles.

That included about $6,600 for overtime after the verdict, when large crowds lingered for several hours near the courthouse, he said. Cato said officials said there was no written contract about the costs, although police Capt. M.D. Brown was honoring a Nueces County request for a rundown on trial-related expenses.

The amounts forwarded by the county and city do not include costs for the attorneys or witnesses. News organizations were billed and paid for officers to provide security for the numerous satellite transmission trucks ringing the courthouse.