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Woman With a Gun Chases a Screaming Selena, Witness Testifies

October 13, 1995 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ A loud boom echoed through a motel, and then a calm-looking woman with a gun chased a screaming Selena through the courtyard, a maintenance man testified Thursday.

The witness, Trinidad Espinoza, identified the woman with the gun as Yolanda Saldivar, the former Selena fan club president on trial on charges of murdering the Grammy-winning Tejano singing star March 31.

Ms. Saldivar ``was pointing it at her,″ Espinoza said. Then, ``she just walked up, stopped. She walked back to the room.″ Asked if she looked sad, angry or excited, he replied, ``No, just normal.″

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Two housekeepers also testified Ms. Saldivar chased Selena with a gun.

``She was running back of Selena and pointing the gun at her,″ Norma Martinez testified. ``She just yelled and called her `Bitch!‴

The testimony contradicted defense claims that a hysterical Saldivar shot the 23-year-old Selena by accident while waving the .38-caliber revolver.

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

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.

Espinoza, who worked at the Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi where the slaying occurred, described to jurors in a Houston courtroom what he saw about noon that day. The trial was moved because of publicity and the singer’s popularity in her hometown of Corpus Christi.

Espinoza said he was repairing a clothes dryer when ``I heard a loud boom. At first I thought it was like a flat tire.″ He saw a young woman in a jogging suit with loose hair running and screaming, he testified.

``I saw another woman chasing her. She had a gun,″ he said.

Asked if he could identify the woman with the gun, he pointed across the courtroom to Ms. Saldivar. He later learned the victim was the singing star, whose full name is Selena Quintanilla Perez.

Selena’s mother and Ms. Saldivar’s mother left the courtroom as he gave the testimony, the first to describe the shooting scene.

Ms. Martinez told of a calm Ms. Saldivar carrying ``a cowboy gun″ and Selena falling to the floor as a desk clerk tried to find out from her what had happened. ``She said the lady in 158 _ Yolanda _ had shot her,″ Ms. Martinez said. ``She was just screaming `Help! Help!″

Ms. Martinez said she spotted a police officer and told him that Ms. Saldivar had climbed into a red pickup truck and was driving in the parking lot. ``I told the policeman, `Hurry, hurry!‴ she said. ``I didn’t want for her to escape.

``When the officer got in his car, Yolanda parked. He parked right in back of her. He wanted to get close to her truck. Yolanda was screaming that she didn’t do nothing.″ That was the start of a nine-hour standoff during which Ms. Saldivar threatened to kill herself.

Sandra Avalos, another housekeeper, said she saw Selena in the motel courtyard, bleeding from the back, ``running and screaming, `Somebody help me.‴ She also said Ms. Saldivar seemed calm.

Earlier Thursday, manicurist Celia Soliz testified that the day before the slaying, Selena had expressed concern while getting her nails done about Ms. Saldivar’s shoddy record-keeping and said she planned to fire her.

Ms. Soliz works at Selena Etc. in Corpus Christi, one of two stores owned by the singer.

``She was very upset,″ Ms. Soliz said, adding that she even followed the singer home that night because ``I was worried about her.″

The same evening, Ms. Saldivar, who lives in San Antonio, checked into the Days Inn where Selena was fatally shot.

Selena was shot as she met with Ms. Saldivar to retrieve business records. Police said Ms. Saldivar admitted to the shooting after the standoff.