Where Is Selena's Murderer, Yolanda Saldivar, Now?

Selena Quintanilla-Pérez ran into the motel lobby before collapsing. It was March 31, 1995, and she'd just been shot in the back. The famous tejano singer managed to name her killer before her tragic death at 23, per the Associated Press. "Yolanda Saldivar in room 158," she told the sales director at the Days Inn in Corpus Christi, who held her as she lay bleeding from the .38 caliber slug. Selena died at the hospital a short time later.

Selena's family believed Saldivar — the head of her fan club and manager of the singer's boutiques — had bilked her out of at least $30,000, according to ABC7. When Selena went to retrieve some financial documents from Saldivar, the then 34-year-old shot the singer. On October 26, 1995, a judge sentenced Saldivar to life in prison after a jury found her guilty of murder, according to a separate AP story from the time. She's currently serving her sentence at Mountain View Unit in Gatesville, Texas, and is up for parole in March 2025, per the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Continued death threats

Yolanda Saldivar spends most of her time in a small cell at the maximum-security women's prison due to continued death threats from other inmates, according to The Messenger. Abraham Quintanilla, Selena's father, told Univision (via Google Translate) that he and his family still get letters from prisoners at Mountain View willing to avenge the singer's death. "I think she is in a safer place now," he told the broadcaster in 2018 — but he believes she would be in danger if she was ever released into the general population.

Saldivar allegedly has a bounty on her head and on at least one occasion has come close to being physically attacked during her time in prison. In 2016, prison guards had to restrain two other inmates who "lunged" at her, according to The Messenger. "She is despised," a former inmate told the outlet in August 2023. "Everyone wants to get her. She's the most hated person at Mountain View." Still, Saldivar has had at least one friend at the prison: Diane Zamora, another high-profile inmate. The former Naval Academy midshipman murdered her teenage rival in a love triangle in 1995, and she grew close to Saldivar while they were both in the protective custody unit, per the Associated Press.

Prison life

The sprawling prison facility where Yolanda Saldiver lives encompasses nearly 100 acres with a working farm and land for cattle grazing, per ABC News. The property houses other infamous inmates, including the former Dallas police officer and convicted murderer Amber Guyger, who shot and killed her neighbor, Botham Jean, in 2018. When Saldivar is not in her 6-feet-by-10-feet cell, she is busy working. According to the tabloid Radar Online, a Texas prison press officer said her job was to "pass out food trays from a cart to other offenders in her cell area."

She has also spent her time attempting to get a new trial. "Although she is required by law to serve a minimum of 30 calendar years in prison before she is eligible for parole ... she keeps trying to find ways to regain her freedom," Carlos Valdez, the prosecutor who helped convict Saldivar, wrote in his 2005 book "Justice for Selena: The State Versus Yolanda Saldivar." The latest attempt was In 2019. The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Saldivar petitioned for a new trial after alleging Valdez had withheld evidence in the case beneficial to the defendant. Her attorneys said in court documents that Valdez kept blood-stained white tennis shoes and a black cap out of the trial. The state dismissed the petition because it was filed with the wrong court, and it apparently has yet to be refiled in the proper venue.

Hopes for parole

Yolanda Saldivar's life sentence allows for her potential release after serving 30 years in prison. She is planning on asking for parole in March 2025 — the first time she'll have the opportunity — but is afraid Selena's family may block her chances. "If they stand in her way, she knows her chances of getting out are very slim," an unnamed relative of Saldivar told The Messenger. "She wants to tell them how sorry she is, how much she's changed. She wants to beg them not to oppose her request." Her prison record has been clean for the last 10 years.

Saldivar alleged she accidentally shot Selena while trying to die by suicide, per the Houston Chronicle. "We don't care if they release her today, nothing is going to give us my daughter back," Abraham Quintanilla told Univision in 2018 [per Google Translate]. "She can say thousands of things, but the reality is that she did kill my daughter and it was not an accident."