“Noor Salman is not guilty of helping her husband, Omar Mateen, carry out the mass shooting that claimed 49 lives at Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, a jury decided Friday. The 12-member jury delivered its verdict after deliberating for about 12 hours over three days.
Salman was also acquitted of obstruction of justice. Prosecutors accused her of lying to the FBI agents who investigated her husband’s mass murder, which he carried out in support of a foreign terror group, the Islamic State.
Had she been convicted, Salman, 31, would have faced up to life in prison. Prosecutors sought to prove Salman helped Mateen prepare for the attack, joining him as he scouted possible targets and bought guns and ammunition. They also said Salman concocted a cover story to tell Mateen’s mother after he left their Fort Pierce apartment to commit the attacks.”
Sources who followed the trail state that some of the prosecutorial evidence didn’t hold up under scrutiny. and that he police didn’t provide a convincing admission of guilt. It will also be interesting to hear from jurors how they weighed the information that Mateen’s father was an FBI informant.
Speculation is that the prosecution damaged itself badly by withholding that information.
A handwritten statement given to the FBI by the wife of Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen says she saw him prepare for the deadly attack for months and knew that the LGBT nightclub was his target.
The 12-page statement, quietly released by federal authorities at the end of December in a batch of records in the case, was taken hours after the June 12, 2016 shooting. The attack left 49 dead and dozens of others injured. Noor Salman was questioned for hours, without a lawyer, after authorities learned her husband was the gunman behind the attack.
She was arrested last year on federal charges of providing material support to a terrorist and tampering with evidence but has pleaded not guilty, claiming she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. She said Mateen abused her and claims she did not know of his plot.
But her defense conflicts with the signed statement she gave to the FBI, which details her knowledge of Mateen’s planning and his path to carry out an attack on behalf of the Islamic State.
“I knew when he left the house he was going to Orlando to attack the Pulse Night Club,” Salman said, according to a statement written by an FBI agent and signed by Salman during the 18-hour interview.
Noor Salman’s attorneys argued that everything she told the FBI in the hours after the attack should be excluded from trial because she was in custody and not given proper Miranda warnings. US attorneys argued that she was not in custody, free to leave at any time, and that all her statements were voluntary.
The widow of Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen will stand trial in Orlando, home to the nation’s second deadliest mass shooting in modern history, after a federal judge ruled staying in the city wouldn’t prevent a fair trial.
Lawyers for Noor Salman had fought to move the case outside the city, arguing intense media coverage of the shooting could prompt bias in potential jurors. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron denied the request, court documents show.
Salman has been behind bars for nearly a year since her January arrest. She’s facing federal charges of obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting by providing material support to a terrorist organization. If convicted, Salman could face life in prison.
Venue changes are rare, and the burden on the accused is heavy. Even Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was denied a change of venue. He is appealing his convictions and death sentence, arguing the judge in his case should have moved his trial.