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Crime News Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

The Moments Before Selena Quintanilla’s Murder

"At the end of the day, she’s the person who did it,” said Texas Monthly journalist Cat Cardenas.

By Jax Miller

It’s been 30 years since Yolanda Saldívar murdered Tejano superstar Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, and the killer is speaking out in the Oxygen original series Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

How to Watch

Watch Selena & Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them on Oxygen and Peacock. 

Shortly before noon on March 31, 1995, fan club manager Yolanda Saldívar fatally shot the 23-year-old singer at a Days Inn hotel in Corpus Christi, Texas. Witnesses watched in horror as Selena made her way to the hotel’s lobby, leaving a trail of blood.

In her last words, Selena identified Saldívar as the shooter — "Yolanda Saldívar, room 158" — before losing consciousness and succumbing to her injuries a short time later at the hospital. 

The murder sent the Latin music industry into a state of mourning, and after a nine-hour standoff with police, Saldívar was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Now serving a life sentence in Gatesville, Texas, Saldívar maintains she shot her friend and former employer by accident, claims prosecutors and others in the documentary dispute. 

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Where is Yolanda Saldivar Now? What to Know About Selena’s Killer

Yolanda Saldivar Says Shooting Was Accident

The shooting occurred because, according to prosecutors, Selena and her family believed Saldívar was embezzling funds from the singer’s businesses, a claim that Saldívar denies — District Attorney Carlos Valdez explained in Selena & Yolanda that the prosecution did not pursue the embezzlement claims, since they were not required in order to convict Saldívar of murder.

"During the trial, it's not really embezzlement that we need to prove. What we need[ed] to prove is that Mr. Quintanilla [Selena’s father] thought there was embezzlement going on — we were alleging that Mr. Quintanilla thought she was doing something illegal, improper; that there was money missing," Valdez explained. "Based on that, he decided to confront Yolanda Saldivar. The actual confrontation started the whole domino effect... which resulted in the death of Selena."

Following the confrontation, Abraham reportedly told investigators that he fired Saldívar and banned her from the family's business.

Saldívar, however, disputes this, claiming she no longer wanted to work for Selena. She claims the singer tried to dissuade her from quitting during their meeting at the Days Inn motel.

“Selena, when she came into the [hotel] room, she kept trying to put guilt in me for not continuing with her, and how everything was going to crumble,” Saldívar told Selena and Yolanda.

Selena Quintanilla and Yolanda Saldivar featured on Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them

“My emotions were running so high, and I was hurting,” Saldívar continued. 

Saldívar claims she had no idea how to use the firearm she brought with her to the hotel and that she “just clicked it” before becoming hysterical and threatening Selena with suicide. Saldívar said she pressed the gun to her head, but Selena begged her not to pull the trigger before attempting to leave the room. 

“I said, ‘Don’t close the door,’” said Saldívar. “And pow! it went.”

RELATED: Who Is Abraham Quintanilla? Everything to Know About Selena's Father and Manager

Journalists React to Saldivar's Claims

Joe Nick Patoski, author of Como la Flor, told Selena and Yolanda producers that they might never know the truth.

“How that gun went off, we can speculate all we want ‘cause I wasn’t there, and you weren’t there; Yolanda was there,” said Patoski. “Now, how she sees it or has interpreted it, that’s Yolanda. And she’ll give you her story, but is that the story?”

Patoski wondered if Yolanda discharged the weapon accidentally or if it were a case of “If I can’t have her, no one can have her.”

“No one knows,” Patoski continued. “But the gun went off, and Selena died.”

Speaking of Saldívar’s account of the murder, Texas Monthly journalist Cat Cardenas believes there is “a lot of risk” of retrying Saldívar again in the court of public opinion because “at the end of the day, she is the person who did it.”

“Is there maybe some nuance as to the circumstances that led up to it? Yeah,” Cardenas told Selena and Yolanda. “But does that change the fact that she’s the one who killed Selena?” 

Watch the two-part limited series Selena and Yolanda: The Secrets Between Them, streaming now on Oxygen.com and Peacock.