October 13, 1995 in Nation/World

Motel Workers Recall Shooting Of Singer Selena Fan Club Founder Is On Trial For Celebrity’s Murder

Houston Chronicle
 

As mortally wounded Tejano superstar Selena bolted from a Corpus Christi, Texas, motel room begging for help, her one-time friend Yolanda Saldivar coolly aimed a “cowboy gun” in her direction and cursed her, a former motel maid testified Thursday in Saldivar’s murder trial.

Norma Martinez, a former maid at the Days Inn, said she was working near Saldivar’s room shortly before noon on March 31 when she heard a boom. She then turned to see a bloody Selena Quintanilla Perez running from the room, crying for help.

“She was in a green suit, like a jumpsuit, and she was yelling ‘Help! Help!”’ Martinez told the jury of six men and six women in state District Judge Mike Westergren’s court.

“I didn’t know then she was Selena. Another lady, short, was running in back of Selena. She was pointing a gun toward Selena.” As the singer ran toward a parking lot, Martinez testified, Saldivar stopped, lowered the weapon and shouted, “Bitch!” She then walked back to her room.

Martinez was one of three former or present motel workers who testified they heard a gunshot, then saw Saldivar, founder of the Selena Fan Club and manager of her boutiques, chasing the singer with a gun.

All three told jurors Saldivar appeared calm.

The workers’ comments were the highlight of the second day of testimony in Saldivar’s murder trial, being held in Houston because of extensive publicity in Corpus Christi.

In other testimony, witnesses said Selena escorted Saldivar to a Corpus Christi hospital the morning of the shooting. Saldivar had claimed she had been beaten and raped the previous day in Mexico, but an emergency room nurse said she did not appear to have been assaulted.

During the testimony by the near-eyewitnesses to the shooting, Saldivar, dressed in a pink suit, sat impassively at the defense table. Selena’s mother, Marcella Quintanilla, overcome by emotion, was led from the courtroom. Saldivar’s mother, Juanita Saldivar, also left the courtroom in tears.

Days Inn maintenance man Trinidad Espinoza said he was attempting to repair a laundry room dryer when he heard a noise similar to that of a tire blowing out. Upon investigating, he saw a woman he identified as Saldivar chasing Selena.

“I was expecting to hear another shot,” he said. “I was almost positive I would hear a second shot, but she never fired. She stopped and lowered the gun.”

Espinoza, Martinez and the third worker, Sandra Avalos, all testified that Saldivar seemed calm during the episode.

Defense attorney Doug Tinker challenged Martinez’s testimony, questioning why she had not mentioned Saldivar’s abusive language to police during previous interviews.

“I respect police, and they were older than me,” Martinez said. “I thought the word was very disrespectful. I think it was a very bad word.”

Tinker also questioned other apparent discrepancies. Martinez told police she had seen Saldivar shoot Selena. But Thursday, she said she had merely heard the shot.

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