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Motel Workers Describe Selena’s Shooting

October 13, 1995 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ Bleeding from a bullet wound, the Tejano singer Selena in her last words identified her murderer and expressed fear she would be shot again, witnesses testified today.

``She said `Yolanda Saldivar in Room 158,‴ said Ruben Deleon, sales director at a Corpus Christi Days Inn where the shooting occurred March 31.

Shawna Vela, a front desk clerk at the motel, gave a similar account today at Ms. Saldivar’s murder trial and helped the prosecution attack defense claims that the shooting was an accident.

Ms. Vela told how Selena burst into the motel lobby crying.

``She said, `Lock the door! She’ll shoot me again,″ said Ms. Vela, her voice shaking.

Deleon described a scene of hysteria as Selena, bleeding from a .38-caliber bullet wound to the back, collapsed to the floor.

``She looked up at me,″ Deleon said. ``She told me and her eyes rolled back.″

Deleon was bending over a few feet from the wounded woman and watched as her fingers began to move and then stopped, he said.

``I panicked,″ Deleon said. ``I was running back and forth. All this happened in just a minute.″

The motel’s assistant manager, Rosalinda Gonzalez, today also told how she saw Selena stumble into the lobby and fall to the floor.

``She was yelling, `Help me, help me. I’ve been shot.′ She had her hands up on her chest,″ Ms. Gonzalez said. ``She slowly laid herself down. I saw a puddle of blood form.

``I asked who shot her. She said the lady in Room 158. She moaned. Her eyes rolled up.″

Today’s testimony followed statements Thursday from three other motel employees who told how they saw the 23-year-old Grammy winner running and screaming down a corridor with her former fan club president in pursuit.

``She was running back of Selena and pointing the gun at her _ in her right hand,″ Norma Martinez, a motel housekeeper, said of Ms. Saldivar. ``She just yelled and called her: `Bitch!‴

Another housekeeper, Sandra Avalos, said Selena was bleeding from her back and screaming, ``Somebody help me!″

Trinidad Espinoza, a maintenance worker at the Days Inn, said he was repairing a clothes dryer when ``I heard a loud boom. At first I thought it was like a flat tire.″

Then he saw a young woman in a jogging suit with loose hair running and screaming. ``I saw another woman chasing her. She had a gun,″ he said.

Espinoza said Ms. Saldivar stopped short of the lobby, lowered her weapon and walked back to room 158, where the 23-year-old singer had gone to collect business records from her.

Ms. Avalos said Ms. Saldivar ``seemed calm″ as she walked back to the room.

After the shooting, Ms. Saldivar held police at bay for nine hours in her pickup truck and threatened to kill herself. Police said Ms. Saldivar admitted to the shooting after the standoff.

Ms. Saldivar, who rose from president of the singer’s fan club to manager of Selena’s two boutiques in Texas, could get up to life in prison if convicted.

Thursday’s testimony contradicts a defense that the shooting occurred accidentally as Ms. Saldivar, 35, was waving a .38-caliber handgun.

Defense attorneys pointed out discrepancies in the two housekeepers’ stories. One woman originally told police she saw the shooting, then told jurors she hadn’t. The other identified the killer as blond.

Assistant district attorney Mark Skurka rejected notions that the discrepancies would affect the state’s case.

``It’s called human nature. In every case you have discrepancies,″ he said.

Other Selena employees testified Thursday that the singer spent her last week trying to collect business records in preparation for filing taxes.

Prosecutors contend the slaying took place after Selena, whose full name is Selena Quintanilla Perez, went to the motel to fire Ms. Saldivar for allegedly embezzling $30,000 from Selena’s boutiques.