Routine Activities Theory: Murder of Selena Quintanilla

Rational choice theory is a school of criminology that holds that wrongdoers act as if they weigh the possible benefits of criminal or delinquent activity against the expected costs of being apprehended. Life and crime are two different expressions but share something in common. Life is forever being recreated all over the world and we know it is happening at any moment, such as crime. The cycle of crime and life is ongoing and whether we like it or not, we can’t control everything that happens. We may try to prevent these things, but nature runs its course. Hospitals are filled with newborns; their cries can be heard from rooms away at the same time a person could be dying because of another person taking their life. Crime is many things but specifically, homicide occurs just as much as life. People are killed every second, minute, and hour of the day. When somebody takes the life of another that is considered by no means you will be called a murderer when proven guilty.

Murder is an unnatural act committed that everyone is familiar with and knows what’s right and what’s wrong. Murder is immoral but criminal homicide is one of the most dangerous crimes to act on. Homicides are automatically considered wrong to society just hearing the word but when you add terms like self-defense, the outlook on the situation can change. Violence, recklessness, and intention to kill another human being are characteristics of criminal homicide. When these aspects are thought of, homicides can array from a careless mistake while texting and driving that may lead to the death of other bystanders, to first-degree murder over money, another person, personal items, and so forth.

All punishments concerning homicides eventually lead to the sentimental moment of sentencing and this can vary since every single case is distinctive from one another. Punishments for the perpetrator can vary for several reasons. For instance, depending on where the homicide was taken place, as in the state or country, the punishments are different around the world. Yes, some cases may have comparable motives, but each case will ever be the same as the next, no matter the circumstance. The proper way to approach a case is to investigate thoroughly along with collecting the appropriate evidence to present in a court hearing. In this paper, you will learn to understand what rational choice theory means, who invented it, and how it impacts our world at large with real-life cases.

When talking about Rational Choice Theory a person weighing out the benefits of the crime they are about to commit, knowing the fee for that crime can be sentencing to prison or jail, is a basic definition of what it is. The theory was created by Clarke and Cornish in 1986. Then, Clarke was head of the British government’s crime research unit and Cornish was an assistant for Clarke. The two of them were more focused on the understanding of how others make rational choices when it comes to acting out on committing a crime. Felson and Cohen had similar philosophies and examined more about the characteristics of the crime than the wrongdoer. They came up with the Routine Activities Theory, which claims crime isn’t associated with how cruel or vicious a person may be, but an opportunity for crime occurs and a new criminal is discovered. What people fail to realize is that anyone can be cable of committing a crime. Vision the people you interact with daily, a neighbor, family, boss, coworker, or even your mailman can be capable of committing a crime, including homicides.

Routine Activities Theory stipulates that a criminal act occurs as a result of the convergence of a motivated offender, a suitable target, and a lack of guardianship. As said before a crime can happen anywhere but it’s a matter of opportunity for it to occur. For instance, a person may never have committed a crime before, but happen to see someone drop their wallet walking down the street. The person decides they want to take the wallet rather than give it back. The wallet became a suitable target and the person who saw it becomes the motivated offender, even though they technically didn’t steal the wallet the decision to keep it developed the crime. No one witnessed the wallet drop other than the person who has now stolen it, this shows the lack of guardianship of the item. Rational Choice Theory coincides with the Routine Activities Theory example given. The moment the person chooses to take the wallet results in their own rational choice decision they’ve made because they know there could be repercussions if the wallet is found in their possession and used.

What are the most common motives that can be seen with murders? Morrall summarized the top four categories that motives can stem from murder. Lust, love, loathing, and loot are the most common motives and can determine the reasoning behind a homicide. Loot is focused on circumstances regarding money, in other words, money rules the world. When you think of money what are the first words that come to mind? Most would immediately think of the good effects money can do. While money does bring good aspects to a person’s life, it can bring bad as well. Problems involving money can lead a person to be irrational and do the unthinkable.

Former singer, songwriter, actress, spokeswoman, fashion designer, activist, and entrepreneur, Selena Quintanilla, was born on April 16th, 1971 in Lake Jackson, Texas. Selena grew up singing at the young age of ten. She was a lead singer in her father’s family band, and they performed mostly at weddings and popular clubs, growing Selena's talent to stardom. The phenomenal woman strengthened her career after 1994 and in 1986 she was being watched from around the world. Music Selena sang brought the Latino and American cultures together creating sensation everywhere. She was known to the world as the “Queen of Tejano Music” which relates to Texas and Mexican music combined.

Unfortunately, Selena was murdered on March 31st, 1995 at the young age of twenty-three years old. The 911 call was reported around 11:50 a.m. from Bárbara Schultz, the motel Manager, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Selena had run into the hotel’s reception office covered in blood saying the words, “Yolanda, room 158” before fainting quickly. She was rushed to the hospital where she later died from the bullet wound entered from the back of her right shoulder that punctured her lung, veins, and a major artery that led her to bleed out. Yolanda Saldivar, age 34 at the time, was the culprit you shot and killed Selena Quintanilla and attempted to escape the crime. She was ultimately caught and cornered in the parking lot but wouldn’t move out of the pick-up truck she was stationed in. Yolanda threatened to kill herself by taking the gun and applying it to her head, after a standoff of over nine hours she finally gave up and turned herself in. Her bail was set for $100,000 but drastically increased when District Attorney Carlos Valdez argued to raise her bail to $500,000. Media reports said many threats were made toward Yolanda Saldívar by Selena’s fans, but they weren’t just fans, they had described being a family that wanted to protect their most influential idol. Selena’s death was covered over several magazines, People’s Weekly in the spring of 1995, featured a “people tribute” dedicated to the young star.

Saldívar is responsible for the first-degree murder of Selena Quintanilla. It all started with Saldívar’s obsession after a concert she watched Selena in the mid-1990s. She immediately became infatuated with the artist and wanted to start a fan club. The fan club was made in San Antonio of June 1991 and Yolanda became the founder and president of the fan club. In 1994, Selena had opened two boutiques and with the help of Saldívar, she became the business manager as well because she knew the family would be touring around the country. The family put a lot of trust into Saldívar including Selena. Not long after Saldívar was left access to certain accounts a year later Quintanilla Jr. was hit with angry fan mail. Customers for the Selena fan club have reported that they’ve paid enrollment fees but hadn’t received any of the promised gifts they had paid for. It was discovered that Saldívar had been embezzling thousands of dollars of forged checks from the fan club and the boutiques. Selena later terminates her and stripes her title for both jobs after confronting Saldívar of the stolen money. Saldívar a day before the murder claimed she had been raped but Selena refused to meet with her alone and would meet to retrieve the stolen bank statements and other documents concerning money involved with her shops and the fan club Saldívar created.

On the day of the murder, there was arguing overheard in the room, but it ended with Selena seeing Saldívar had a gun and trying to run away with the documents in hand. Picture evidence shows Selena had dropped everything to run to the hotel office in an attempt to save her life. Selena did not survive the altercation. In conclusion, Saldívar was the motivated offender in this case, which leads to the Routine Activities Theory, because she saw an opportunity to steal money without being noticed. Selena’s money accounts involving her establishment with the boutiques and the fan club are presented as a suitable target. If someone had paid closer attention to Saldívar’s intentions, then some situations could have been prevented but it shows the lack of guardianship over the family’s business. The Routine Activities Theory manifests in the Rational Choice Theory because Saldívar came into that hotel knowingly that someone was bound to be hurt as she already had the gun with her. She made a rational decision to kill Selena to avoid the consequences of being caught stealing money, even though she knew that she could be apprehended. This paper discusses a better understanding of the Rational Choice Theory and the process of weighing the outcomes of the decisions you make. 

07 July 2022
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