ORLANDO, Florida. – Jurors deliberated Wednesday whether the widow of the Orlando nightclub shooter lied to the FBI and helped her husband in the attack, which killed 49 people, or was it an abused wife who knew nothing of his plans.
Noor Salman, 31, is charged with obstruction and the provision of material support to a terrorist organization. She is facing life in prison if convicted of all charges.
Prosecutors said Salman and Mateen scouted out potential targets together — including Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex — and she knew that he was buying ammunition for his AR-15 in preparation for a jihadi attack.
In the hours after the shooting, they lied to the FBI about the number of guns her husband had and his use of the internet, which included watching decapitations and a visit to the Islamic State group websites.
“She does not need to be the same in the attack, and in fact she is not,” Assistant district Attorney of the V. S. Sara Sweeney said.
Defense attorneys described Salman, who was born in California to Palestinian parents, as a simple woman with a low IQ. She was abused by her husband, who cheated on her with other women and hidden part of his life from her, ” she said.
Lawyer Charles Swift said that there was no way Salman knew that Mateen attack of the Pulse nightclub because he did not know that he had an attack of the disco until after he went to the Disney Springs complex.
“It is a terrible, random, senseless killing by a monster,” Swift said. “But it was not pre-planned. The importance of this case is that if he did not know, she couldn’t know.”
He said Salman’s confession was forced, and she signed because she was tired and feared the loss of her son.
The statement said in part that “in the last two years, Omar talked to me about jihad.” Swift said Salman was not an extremist, and therefore not capable of such a discussion.
“She still looks at Hello Kitty and novels,” he said.
Jurors asked for the testimony of a few hours in their deliberations and a judge printed copies for them. Before the trial, defense attorneys unsuccessfully argued that the declaration needs to be thrown out.
The jurors also asked a question about an index of the evidence and about the text on one of the charges Salman faces. The judge refused an index, but it did clarify the text.
Jurors deliberated for a few hours before going home. They will resume discussions Thursday morning.
During the trial, the public prosecutor said Salman advised Mateen to lie to his mother when they asked him his whereabouts on the night of the shooting.
She said Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghani parents, referred to the attack of Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a weapon in a baby stroller, but was chased by the police and instead chose the gay club as his target.
Sweeney showed surveillance video of the Disney Springs complex that caught Mateen walk near the House of Blues club in the hours before the Pulse attack. He looks behind him to police officers in the area before deciding to leave.
“He had to choose a new goal,” she said.
Sweeney said Salman “knowingly engaged in misleading conduct” when she spoke to the FBI in the hours after the attack.
She claimed that her husband made no use of the internet in their home, but he did. They told the researchers that Mateen had disabled his Facebook account in 2013, but the researchers found that he has an account up until the month of the shooting and was friends with his wife. She said that her husband had a gun when he was three, and that he was not radicalized.
Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed by police in the hours after the Pulse, shoot.
Salman’s lawyer, the jury found by the hours of her life for the attack. She called a friend and her uncle in California, says that she is coming to visit and that Mateen would them.
She talked with her in-laws, eating at Applebee’s and sms’ Mateen. He didn’t respond. They then went on Facebook, read a book, and then a text message Mateen.
“You know you work tomorrow,” she writes.
He replied, “You know what happened?”
She wrote, “What happened?”
Then he sent his last text: “I love you sweetheart.”
Swift said: “a person who knows what happened in this, and one person not.”
Earlier this week, defense attorneys asked the judge for a mistrial after she discovered that Mateen’s father was an FBI informant for years. The judge rejected the request, saying the trial was about Salman, not Mateen’s father.
Salman not testify in her defense.
This story has been corrected that Salman’s parents are from Palestine, Pakistan does not.