September 19, 1960|
San Antonio, Texas, U.S.
|Criminal penalty||Life imprisonment|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas|
|Conviction(s)||First-degree murder of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez|
Yolanda Saldívar (Spanish pronunciation: [ɟʝoˈlanda salˈdiβar]; born September 19, 1960) is a former nurse and fan club president who was convicted of the murder of Tejano singer, Selena Quintanilla-Pérez on March 31, 1995, in Corpus Christi, Texas. She will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
Yolanda Saldívar was the youngest of seven children born to Frank and Juanita Saldívar in San Antonio, Texas. Her father was a head waiter at Jacala, a Mexican restaurant in the West End. She attended three different elementary schools in the Edgewood Independent School District. Saldívar first attended Kennedy High School, then transferred to Holmes High School, followed by John Jay High School, before graduating in 1979 from McCollum High School. While at McCollum, Saldívar belonged to its Junior ROTC unit. Few classmates recall Saldívar, who was a classmate of Ram Herrera, who graduated in 1978, and Emilio Navaira, who graduated in 1980.
Saldívar was accepted at the University of Texas in Austin in 1985, then transferred to Palo Alto College in San Antonio. She studied to be a registered nurse, and on 10 December 1990, received a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. At this time, she became obsessed with losing weight. She also began work as a graduate nurse at Medical Center Hospital.
In March 1991, she received her license as a registered nurse from the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners. She earned $60,000 a year. Saldívar, who never married, had to work part-time after adopting three children, one of them her niece.
Saldívar's employer, Dr. Faustino Gomez, a dermatologist, sued her for $9,200 that he said she stole from him starting in 1983. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court. Within two months, Saldívar was back in court again when the Texas Guaranteed Student Loan Corporation obtained a Travis County court judgment against her for failing to repay a student loan of $7,361. By that time, Saldívar had changed jobs and was working as a nurse at St. Luke's Lutheran Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.
Selena fan club
In the next four years, Saldívar worked at two other hospitals. Having become a fan of Tejano music, she began attending artists' concerts. After a Shelly Lares concert in San Antonio, she approached the singer about starting a fan club. Her request was declined by Lares' father, Fred, who only wished family members to work with the singer. Saldívar was convinced by her friends to give Selena a try, although she originally disliked the singer because she dominated the Tejano Music Awards.
After attending one of her concerts, she began repeatedly calling Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, Jr., about starting a fan club in San Antonio. Quintanilla eventually gave in to Saldívar's requests and she immediately became the club's president. Saldívar was promoted as manager of Selena's clothing boutiques, Selena Etc.. By 1993 the fan club had reached 1,500 members in less than four years, and eventually grew to over 5,000. It became one of the largest fan clubs in the San Antonio area.
Murder of Selena
In the spring of 1995 Selena's family discovered that Saldívar was embezzling money from both the fan club and boutiques; she was fired in the first week of March. On the morning of March 31, Selena agreed to meet Saldívar at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi to retrieve financial records Saldívar had been refusing to turn over. Saldívar delayed the handover again by claiming she had been raped in Mexico. Selena drove Saldívar to a local hospital, where doctors found no evidence of rape. They returned to the motel, where Selena once more demanded the records. Saldívar then took a .38 Taurus Model 85 revolver from her purse and pointed it at the singer. Selena tried to flee, but Saldívar shot her once in the back, severing an artery. Critically wounded, Selena ran towards the lobby for help with Saldívar in pursuit calling her a "bitch". She collapsed on the floor as the clerk called 911, and died in a hospital from blood loss at 1:05 pm.
Trial and imprisonment
Saldívar's trial for the murder of Selena was followed closely by the Latino community in the United States. The trial was not televised, but cameras were permitted on the courthouse premises. The venue was moved to Houston, Texas, after Saldívar's lawyers successfully argued that she could not receive a fair trial in Selena's home town. Before the start of the trial, CNN reported that prosecutors were expected to introduce a controversial police confession signed by Saldívar in which she said she shot Selena "during an argument over accusations from the singer's father that Saldívar stole money from Selena's accounts". The defense was expected to introduce testimony from Texas Ranger Robert Garza that "he overheard Saldívar claim the shooting was accidental, and that she objected when police failed to include it in her statement".
The defense attorney argued the shooting was accidental, but the prosecution pointed out that Saldívar, a trained nurse, did not call 911 or try to help Selena after she was shot. Saldívar claimed that the gun "[accidentally] went off". The gun, a .38 caliber Taurus Model 85 revolver, has been said to require 11 pounds of pressure on the trigger to fire, a fact which led many[who?] to conclude that the gun could only have discharged if the trigger was intentionally pulled. The judge did not give the jury the option of lesser charges of manslaughter or negligent homicide, and told the jurors they must convict or acquit Saldívar on the sole charge of first-degree murder.
Jurors deliberated for less than three hours on October 23, 1995, before finding Saldívar guilty of first-degree murder. Three days later, on October 26, she was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in thirty years; this was the maximum prison term allowed in Texas at the time. On November 22, 1995, she arrived at the Gatesville Unit (now the Christina Melton Crain Unit) in Gatesville, Texas, to be processed.
After the conviction
The revolver used to kill Selena disappeared after the trial and was later found in the home of a court reporter. Despite objections from some historical groups, it was dismantled and the pieces thrown into Corpus Christi Bay in 2002.
Saldívar has asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to accept a petition that challenges her conviction. She claims the petition was filed in 2000 with the 214th District Court, but was never sent to the higher court. Her request was received on March 31, 2008, the thirteenth anniversary of Selena's death.
In popular culture
- Candiotti, Susan (9 October 1995). "Trial of Selena's accused murderer begins Monday". CNN.
- "Texas Board of Nursing". www.bon.state.tx.us. Retrieved 14 April 2017.
- Patoski, Joe Nick (1997). Selena : como la flor. New York: Berkley Boulevard Books. pp. 132–134. ISBN 978-0425171240.
- Sam Howe Verhovek (1 April 1995). "Grammy Winning Singer Selena Killed in Shooting at Texas Motel". The New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved 25 August 2010.
- "Testimony of Richard Fredrickson". Houston Chronicle, 13 October 1995. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- Mitchell, Claudia A.; Reid-Walsh, Jacqueline, eds. (2008). Girl culture an encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-08444-0.
- "October 12, 1995 testimony of Carla Anthony". Houston Chronicle, 12 October 1995. Retrieved 21 May 2008.
- "October 12, 1995, the testimony of Norma Martinez". Houston Chronicle, 12 October 1995. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- Villafranca, Armando and Reinert, Patty. "Singer Selena shot to death". Houston Chronicle, 1 April 1995. Retrieved 1 February 2008.
- "Yolanda Saldivar found guilty of Selena's murder". CNN. October 23, 1995. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- "Selena's killer receives life sentence". CNN. 26 October 1995. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
- Bennett, David. "Somber Saldivar delivered to prison – Convicted murderer of Tejano star Selena keeps head down during processing." San Antonio Express-News. 23 November 1995. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
- "Offender Information Detail Saldivar, Yolanda" ( Archived December 25, 2015, at WebCite). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on 25 December 2015.
- Perez, Nicole. "NO, Yolanda Saldivar did not die in prison." KSAT-TV. 17 August 2015. Retrieved on 25 December 2015. "Saldivar is serving a life sentence at the state's Mountain View Facility in Gatesville for the 1995 murder of Selena."
- "Gun That Killed Singer Is To Be Destroyed". The New York Times. 8 June 2002. Retrieved 27 April 2016.
- Mary Ann Cavazos (1 April 2008). Selena's Killer Asks Court to Review Writ Archived 26 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved 6 April 2008.
- "Actress Lupe Ontiveros dies of cancer at 69". CBS News. 27 July 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2016.