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Paramedics Found Gift Ring Clutched in Dying Singer’s Hand

October 13, 1995 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ As paramedics frantically tried to save the dying Tejano singer Selena, they noticed something held tightly in her clenched right fist.

``When I opened it, a ring fell out,″ said Richard Fredrickson, a Corpus Christi paramedic, testified Friday at the trial of Yolanda Saldivar. ``It was covered with blood.″

Ms. Saldivar, who rose from Selena’s fan club president to manager of her two boutiques, is being tried on a murder charge for shooting the singer. She faces life in prison if convicted.

The defense claims Ms. Saldivar was hysterical and shot the 23-year-old Selena by accident while waving a .38-caliber revolver.

Prosecutors contend the slaying was deliberate and took place after Selena went to a Corpus Christi motel to fire Ms. Saldivar, 35, for allegedly embezzling $30,000 from the boutiques. Selena was shot in a motel room, ran outside and collapsed in the lobby of the office.

The 14-karat gold and diamond ring, topped with a white-gold egg, was a gift from the Grammy winner’s boutique employees and Ms. Saldivar.

The singer, whose full name was Selena Quintanilla Perez, was born near Easter and collected decorative eggs.

On March 31, Selena went to Ms. Saldivar’s hotel room to pick up business records she needed for tax filing. A confrontation followed.

According to earlier police and media reports, Ms. Saldivar demanded back the ring. But before Selena had a chance to return it, she was shot.

Fredrickson said he came upon the ring as his ambulance was rushing Selena to Memorial Medical Center in Corpus Christi. Her heart had stopped and he was looking for a vein that had not collapsed so he could pump fluids back into the unconscious woman.

Hotel employees called to the stand Friday repeated the story told by earlier witnesses: Selena, bleeding profusely from a fatal bullet wound, used her dying breath to name Ms. Saldivar as her killer.

``She said `Yolanda Saldivar in Room 158,‴ Ruben Deleon, sales director at the motel, told jurors in the a Houston courtroom. The trial was moved because of publicity and the singer’s popularity in her hometown of Corpus Christi.

``She was yelling, `Help me, help me. I’ve been shot,‴ said Rosalinda Gonzalez, an assistant manager at the motel. ``I asked who shot her. She said the lady in Room 158. She moaned. Her eyes rolled up.″

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Front desk clerk Shawna Vela said she dialed 911 and took the phone with her as she kneeled over the fallen singer, asking her what happened.

``She said `Yolanda,′ said `In room 158,‴ Ms. Vela testified.

The gripping, sometimes gruesome testimony pushed Selena’s family to tears as Ms. Saldivar stoically stared at the witness stand. Selena’s brother, A.B. Quintanilla, cried with his head in his hands. His wife, Vangie, wiped away tears and rubbed her husband’s back.

On Thursday, three other motel employees said they saw Selena running and screaming down a corridor as Ms. Saldivar pursued her with the gun. After the shooting, they said Ms. Saldivar went calmly back to the room, then left the motel.