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Surgeon Recalls Futile Emergency Treatment On Selena

October 20, 1995 GMT

HOUSTON (AP) _ Doctors treating a fatally wounded Selena re-established a brief, erratic heartbeat before the Tejano singer was pronounced dead, a physician testified Thursday.

``She had no evidence of neurological function. There was no evidence of any blood flow to her brain. Her brain was not functioning. She was clinically brain dead,″ Dr. Louis Elkins testified Thursday in the murder trial of the woman accused of shooting Selena at a Corpus Christi motel.

The testimony came as prosecutors neared completion of their case against Yolanda Saldivar, 35, Selena’s former fan club president. The prosecution planned to rest its case early Friday.

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Ms. Saldivar’s attorneys contend the shooting was accidental.

But Lloyd White, the Nueces County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Selena, ruled the death was homicide and not an accident.

``I’m quite certain the gun was intentionally fired,″ he said under cross-examination Thursday. ``What the person intended to do by that is not my job.″

At least one juror cried when autopsy photos were introduced and White described Selena’s wounds, which he called ``textbook gunshot wounds.″ The juror gave the autopsy photos only a fleeting glance.

Elkins, a cardiac surgeon, had been summoned to Corpus Christi’s Memorial Medical Center just after noon March 31 to attempt to save the 23-year-old singer, whose full name is Selena Quintanilla Perez.

Elkins said doctors made ``heroic″ efforts, including blood transfusions, but the damage from a .38-caliber hollow point bullet that shredded Selena’s right shoulder, lung, veins and a major artery left ``a massive ongoing blood loss.″

By the time he reached the dying woman, Elkins said, an emergency room doctor had reached into Selena’s chest and was massaging her heart.

Ms. Saldivar was expressionless throughout the testimony.

Elkins’ testimony about blood transfusions addressed reports that Selena’s father, Abraham Quintanilla Jr., was upset about them because of his religious beliefs. A Jehovah’s Witness, Quintanilla opposes such treatment.

The state’s final witness Thursday, Edward McKinstry, a Corpus Christi police firearms examiner, said his inspection of the weapon used in the shooting indicated it was a new pistol that had fired one shot.

Even if the gun were dropped while cocked, McKinstry said, it probably would not fire. He noted that safety features kept the weapon from going off unless the trigger deliberately was pulled.

Asked if the gun could discharge accidentally, he replied: ``No, I don’t think so.″

Earlier Thursday, a Corpus Christi police evidence technician, Carlos Cardona, testified that the bed in the room where the shooting occurred was made and he found no files there.

In her written confession, Ms. Saldivar said that just before she pulled out her gun, Selena ``started dumping all the files on the bed from the briefcase or handbag that I had.″

Prosecutors contend the woman deliberately killed Selena when they met to discuss missing documents that would have supported family suspicions Ms. Saldivar had embezzled $30,000 from the singer’s boutiques.

If convicted of murder, Ms. Saldivar could face up to life in prison.