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Yolanda Saldivar found guilty of Selena's murder


October 23, 1995
Web posted at: 10:00 p.m. EDT

HOUSTON, Texas (CNN) -- A jury Monday took about two hours to find Yolanda Saldivar guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Tejano singing star Selena.

Jury deliberations began early Monday afternoon following three hours of closing arguments. Celebrate

Selena fans outside the courthouse cheered when news of the verdict reached them ( 775K QuickTime movie).

The jury recessed immediately after the verdict. It could return late Monday or Tuesday to decide on a sentence. Saldivar, former president of the star's fan club, faces up to 30 years in prison.

In closing arguments Monday morning, defense lawyer Fred Hagans called the killing "a tragic accident." He said Saldivar did not intend to shoot Selena, but was trying to kill herself. Selena

"While Selena was a victim of a tragic circumstance, she was not a victim of murder," Hagan told the jury.

Hagan argued the prosecution failed to refute Saldivar's claim it was an accident.

Prosecutor Mark Skurka argued Saldivar was blaming everyone but herself, including the police, the witnesses and Selena's father.

Skurka questioned why, if it were an accidental shooting, Saldivar did not call 911 and did not try to help Selena after she was shot. Saldivar, he noted, was a trained nurse.

Skurka urged jurors to use their common sense.

Judge Mark Westergren limited the jury's options Monday, telling jurors the sole issue is whether Saldivar is guilty of first-degree murder.

In his charge to the jury, Westergren could have given the jurors the option of considering manslaughter or negligent homicide in the killing of the Tejano singing star. However, he chose to limit considerations only to first-degree murder.

Saldivar has admitted shooting Selena but said that the shooting was not intentional. During the trial, the defense contended that Saldivar was distraught and suicidal when she shot the Grammy-winning singer by accident March 31 in a motel room in Corpus Christi.

Prosecutors contend Saldivar deliberately shot Selena in a dispute over whether Saldivar had embezzled money from Selena's boutiques.


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