CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — She was a performer with a voice that could fill stadiums around the world; someone with so much talent, she was in the process of making a legendary crossover from Tejano to pop music.
She was only 23 years old when her life was tragically cut short.
Now, the late superstar Selena Quintanilla-Perez' life and legacy are back in the headlines following a claim by her convicted killer, Yolanda Saldívar, that there is evidence that was never seen by her defense attorneys and because of that, she deserves a new trial.
So is there really evidence in the case that was not seen by her defense? And if so, would it support her claim that the shooting of Selena on that day in 1995 was an accident?
The prosecutor who successfully put Saldívar behind bars said it is just another ploy to get attention. He gave 3News Anchor Rudy Trevino an exclusive look at the evidence in question for the first time since Saldívar's trial back in 1995.
Carlos Valdez is now a district court judge, but in 1995 he was the prosecutor in Selena's trial. He showed 3News the contents of more than 16 boxes of evidence from that case.
"Bullets and ammunition," Valdez said.
All sorts of evidence, from transcripts to affidavits -- stacks of files, Yolanda Saldívar's purse and briefcase.
"A bunch of correspondence and files," Valdez said.
Even Saldívar's infamous cell phone is part of the cache of evidence -- but in paperwork demanding a new trial filed in May, there is one item the 58-year-old convicted murderer claims was not admitted into evidence during her trial. In fact, she claims the prosecution hid it from her defense.
The evidence in question has been kept in a crumpled brown paper bag for years -- the tennis shoes Selena was wearing the day she was shot.
In her writ of habeas corpus, Saldívar claims nowhere in the State's exhibit index were a pair of white high-top Reebok tennis shoes. However, Valdez quickly dispelled that claim by showing 3News one critical detail written on that brown paper bag.
"This says, 'DT, August 15th of 1995.' What that means is that Doug Tinker opened this and looked at the evidence that was in here," Valdez said. "Mr. Tinker was the chief defense attorney for Yolanda Saldívar, so he had access to it. He had access to the evidence. He had access to the tennis shoes. Nobody was hiding them. They've been with the clerk the whole time."
Saldívar said that after 23 years, Valdez presented the evidence to the public in a Spanish-media interview. In her writ, Saldívar says, "the jury, not the defense or the prosecutor is the 'trier' of fact of all relevant material evidence and they alone should and did determine between conviction and acquittal," but in doing so, not all the evidence was presented.
Saldívar claims the shooting was accidental, but Valdez shut that argument down quickly as well.
"Actually we have a writing, a confession from Yolanda Saldívar, signed by herself, saying that she did kill Selena," Valdez said. "I guess now she's trying to say that the tennis shoe, I don't know in what way, but some way prove that she's lying."
Saldívar is up for parole in a little over five years. Valdez said instead of filing motions for new trials, she should be focusing on something else.
"She should be thinking about expressing remorse, admitting that she was wrong and telling people, trying to convince people that the time in prison has changed her for the better," Valdez said.
Saldívar's request for a new trial was dismissed without written order by the court of criminal appeals on July 24. Selena's family spoke with 3News about the report and said they hope Saldívar will someday be remorseful.
- Selena Quintanilla was born on April 16, 1971, in Lake Jackson, Texas, just outside of Houston.
- At just 10 years old, Selena became the lead singer of the group Selena y Los Dinos.
- In 1987, at just 15 years old, Selena won the Tejano Music Award for Female Vocalist. She went on to win that award nine consecutive times, making waves in the male-dominated world of Tejano music.
- In April of 1992, Selena married guitarist Chris Perez, continuing to perform and pursue a successful fashion venture.
- On March 31, 1995, the young star confronted the president of her fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, and accused her of mishandling the club's money. An argument ensued and ended with Selena being fatally shot. Afterward, Saldívar held police at bay for hours. She was in her car threatening to take her own life. Ultimately she surrendered, was tried for murder, and sentenced to life in prison.
- Saldívar has repeatedly attempted to get a new trial.
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