Yolanda Saldívar ([ɟʝoˈlanda salˈdiβaɾ]; 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. Saldívar will be eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
In March 1991, she received her license as a registered nurse from the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners.
Selena fan club
After attending one of her concerts, she began repeatedly calling Selena's father, Abraham Quintanilla, 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 spring 1995, Selena's family discovered that Saldívar was embezzling money from both the fan club and boutiques, which led to her firing 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 "puta". 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 prosecutors 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.
Saldívar is serving a life sentence at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. She will become eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.
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.