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"It was traumatic ... I [still] miss her face, her laughter," her husband, who was 25 at the time of her death, says in an exclusive first look at True Hollywood Story: Death of Innocence

By Darlene Aderoju
March 29, 2021 12:00 PM
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Chris Pérez, the husband of late icon Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, is opening up about the tragic death of his wife, the Queen of Tejano Music.

In an all-new episode of E! Entertainment's documentary titled True Hollywood Story: Death of Innocence, her husband and guitarist details the grief he endured after losing the love of his life at the hands of her close friend and business partner, Yolanda Saldívar.

PEOPLE has the exclusive sneak peek at the episode, which premieres on E! Entertainment on Monday at 10 p.m. EST/PST.

"It was traumatic, it was the hardest thing up until that point that I had ever had to go through," Pérez, who was 25 at the time of Selena's death, says in the clip. "I [still] miss her face, her laughter. She was just an amazing soul, an amazing spirit."

Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Perez
Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Pérez

Some fans claimed that Selena's loved ones were partially responsible for her death, which made it even more painful for Pérez (the star's Selena Y Los Diños bandmate) to cope with.

"I heard fans that are like, 'How could we let that happen?' Come on now, you think that I would let anything happen to her, like seriously?" he said. "None of us thought that [losing her] was even a possibility."

After Saldívar fatally shot the Queen of Tex-Mex on March 31, 1995 (just two weeks ahead of what would have been her 24th birthday, April 16), she was charged with first-degree murder. Saldívar was found guilty on Oct. 23, 1995 and sentenced to life in prison with no eligibility for parole.

"On the road, we had security so I never really feared for her safety," Pérez explains. "You know, especially the way it happened to her. The fact that one of her friends did that, it's just unbelievable."

Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Perez
Chris Pérez and his wife Selena Quintanilla

Selena was killed before the completion of her highly anticipated English album Dreaming of You. The album posthumously debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart on Aug. 4, 1995 and remained on the list for 49 weeks. Her song "Dreaming of You" peaked at No. 22 on the Hot 100 on Nov. 24, 1995 and charted for 20 weeks.

"Doing the English record, that was always the next big goal for her," her husband recalls. "It felt like we had to finish it."

In several interviews ahead of her death, the 23-year-old spoke of her excitement to release the project, which would have been her breakthrough English album, after singing Tejano music alongside her family since she was a child.

In the preview clip, Pérez explains how difficult it was to record his instrumental portion of the album without his wife.

"Them pushing play for me to record the guitar tracks and to hear her voice coming out the speakers in the studio, it was just painful to go in [the recording booth] and have to create parts and make them sound a certain way, when really inside you're just dying," he remembers.

"She taught me a lot," says the star. "I used to never tell people I love them, you know? Or I miss them, or just give them gifts just because. I learned those things and many, many other things from her."

Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Perez
Selena Quintanilla and husband Chris Perez

Saldívar killed Selena after Saldívar embezzled money from the singer, who hired her to watch over her clothing boutiques — another passion project for Selena.

Selena received the Recording Academy's Lifetime Achievement Award during the 63rd Annual Grammys on March 14. She "would have been very excited for this honor, just like she was when she won her Grammy back in 1994," her dad told PEOPLE days before the show.

True Hollywood Story: Death of Innocence premieres on E! Entertainment on Monday at 10 p.m. EST/PST.