The Day the Music Died


On March 31, 1995, singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez arrived at a Corpus Christi Days Inn to meet with her friend, fan club president, and fashion boutique manager, Yolanda Saldívar. The Quintanilla family suspected Saldívar of embezzling funds. When the women started to argue, Saldívar pointed a gun at Selena, shooting the singer in the back as she attempted to flee. Despite the quick arrival of paramedics, the artery-piercing wound proved fatal, and Selena was pronounced dead at the hospital. She was 23. Saldívar engaged in a near ten-hour standoff with law enforcement before surrendering into police custody.

Before her death, Selena had garnered considerable celebrity. After her death, the queen of Tejano music achieved “saintlike status almost equal to that of the Virgin of Guadalupe,” said Joe Nick Patoski for Texas Monthly. So when the State of Texas v. Yolanda Saldívar began in Houston on October 9—just six days after the O. J. Simpson murder trial concluded—media outlets swarmed. More than 200 press credentials were issued, with Spanish-language networks Univision and Telemundo airing at least 90 minutes of coverage daily. After two-and-a-half hours of deliberation, the jury found Saldívar guilty of murder and gave her the maximum sentence: life in prison. She will be eligible for parole in 2025.

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