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Yolanda Saldívar
Born September 19, 1960 (1960-09-19) (age 49)
Jiménez, Tamaulipas, Méx.
Charge(s) First-degree murder
Conviction(s) First-degree murder
Penalty Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole in 30 years (2025)
Status Currently serving out her life sentence in Gatesville, TX

Yolanda Saldívar (born September 19, 1960) was convicted in 1995 for the murder of Tejano music singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez at a Days Inn motel in Corpus Christi, Texas on March 31, 1995. After the shooting, Yolanda Saldivar kept police at bay for about 10 hours while she held a gun to her own head.[1]


Trial and imprisonment

Saldívar's trial for the murder of Selena Quintanilla-Pérez was followed closely by the Latino community in the United States. The trial was not televised but there were cameras outside the courthouse. The trial venue was moved to Houston, Texas after Saldívar's lawyers successfully argued that she could not receive a fair trial in Corpus Christi, Selena's hometown. Before the start of the trial, CNN reported that prosecutors were expected to introduce a controversial police confession signed by Saldívar in which she claimed she shot Selena "during an argument over accusations from the singer's father that Saldívar is a lesbian and stole money from Selena's accounts". The defense was expected to introduce testimony from Texas Ranger Robert Garza that "he overheard Saldívar claim the shooting was accidental, and that she objected when police failed to include it in her statement".[1]

Although the defense attorney argued for Saldívar's claims that the shooting was accidental, the prosecution raised the issue that Saldívar, a trained nurse, neither called 911 nor tried to help the victim after she was shot.[2] The judge presiding the case chose not to give jurors the option of the lesser charges of manslaughter or negligent homicide, instructing jurors that they must either convict or acquit Saldívar on the sole charge of first-degree murder.

The jury deliberated for two hours.[3] She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on October 23, 1995, with parole eligibility set for thirty years; this was the maximum prison term for the state of Texas.[4] Saldivar has the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) number 00733126 and is serving her life sentence at the Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, operated by the TDCJ. She is eligible for parole on March 30, 2025.[5] Because of multiple internal death threats sent to Saldívar from incarcerated Selena fans, she had to be placed into isolation. Saldívar spends 23 of her 24 hours in her 9x6 prison cell alone, without contact from other inmates. She can purchase a radio from the commissary, and she can have a two-hour visit with family or friends each week.[citation needed]

After the conviction

Saldívar has never offered a motive for the murder, claiming instead that it was an accident. In later years, she stated that she had been the protector of the singer's private life. When interviewed by journalist María Celeste Arrarás, Saldívar claimed to have in her possession a diary, a letter, and a video as evidence of Selena's infidelity to her husband Chris. She also claimed to possess a suitcase with clothes Selena had asked her to keep days before her death, claiming Selena had planned to run away with her supposed lover, Ricardo Martínez. Martínez was a chief financier of Selena's clothing business and has expressed outrage at Saldívar's claims, saying, "This woman [Saldívar] continues doing harm. I don't know how they can continue to believe a murderer." [6]

These claims by Saldívar were discussed in the 1998 VH1 documentary program, Behind the Music, although the program did not describe the nature of the claims. When interviewed for the program, Saldívar answered most questions with, "I won't discuss that." She also insisted that she could direct the interviewer, Jim Forbes, to a bank where a safe-deposit box held items that could have harmed Selena's reputation. After an exhaustive investigation that included a trip to Mexico, Forbes concluded, "There was no safe-deposit box, nor tapes, nor diary, nor evidence."[citation needed]

Saldívar allegedly used similar claims of a safe-deposit box in January 1997, this time with financial documents, to gain an evidentiary hearing in Houston for the purpose of obtaining a new trial. Later that month, State District Judge Mike Westergren decided a new trial was not in order because the records that Saldívar claimed were missing were never admitted into evidence.[7]

The gun used to kill Selena had been lost for a time after the trial, but was discovered in a court reporter's home. It was later destroyed and its remains thrown into Corpus Christi Bay.[8]

Saldívar was portrayed in the movie Selena by Lupe Ontiveros.

Saldívar has requested that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals review a petition that challenges her conviction. She claims the petition was filed in 2000 with the 214th District Court but was never sent to the higher court. Her request was received on March 31, 2008, the 13th anniversary of Selena's death.[9]


Yolanda Saldívar is not related to serial killer Efren Saldivar.


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