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Group Opposes Plans to Destroy Gun

June 10, 2002

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) _ Historians are bemoaning plans to destroy the gun used in the killing of Tejano music star Selena, which was found last month in the home of the court reporter for the murder trial.

A judge ordered the .38-caliber Taures be smashed with a sledgehammer, run through a shredder and thrown into Corpus Christi Bay. But many say the revolver is an important piece of musical history.

``You have literally the smoking gun ... the weapon that killed the symbol of Tejano pride,″ said Manuel Pena, an ethnomusicologist at Fresno State University. ``How often do historians wish they had evidence of things that happened one hundred years ago?″

Long thought missing, the gun was found last month in the home of the court reporter at the 1995 trial of Yolanda Saldivar, the former Selena fan club president convicted of murdering the singer. Saldivar is serving a life sentence.

Court reporter Sandra Oballe said she found the gun in a box of office materials at her home. She has said she didn’t realize she had the weapon.

Last week, District Judge Jose Longoria ordered the gun’s destruction, saying, ``It’s time to finally bring closure to such tragedy.″

Attorney Michael Hummell said he represents a client willing to donate $100,000 to charity if the judge agrees to keep the gun intact.

``Every time that family drives by the ocean, they’re going to look at the bay and the gun’s going to be out there,″ Hummell said. ``What’s the difference between it being somewhere in the bay and somewhere in a museum? There isn’t any, except in the bay people can’t see it.″

Abraham Quintanilla, Selena’s father, said he wanted the gun destroyed.

``Why would you want to keep an instrument that was used to kill a loved one?″ he said. ``I just wonder if some of those people that don’t want the gun destroyed, I wonder it they would feel the same way if their child was killed with this gun.″

Selena Quintanilla Perez rose to stardom and won a Grammy Award during the boom of Tejano music in the early 1990s. She was on the verge of crossing over into the English-language pop market when she was killed in 1995, at the age of 23.

Jennifer Lopez played the singer in the 1997 film ``Selena.″

During the murder trial, Saldivar said that she had intended to kill herself during a confrontation with Selena at a motel room, but that the gun misfired. Prosecutors said Saldivar feared she was going to be fired for stealing from the star and killed Selena in cold blood.