ORLANDO, Fla. – The case against the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen returned to federal court Friday in Orlando as a judge ruled from the bench that an expert witness for the defense will be allowed to testify during the March trial.
Noor Salman faces charges of aiding a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. She was arrested seven months after her husband killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others before police shot and killed him on June 12, 2016.
Mateen called 911 from the club and pledged his allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State.
Charles Swift, Salman's attorney, told News 6 as he was walking into court that the hearing focused on a Daubert motion, which could determine whether evidence or an expert witness will be allowed at trial.
The hearing was closed to the media, but News 6 learned that the hearing was to determine if Dr. Bruce Frumkin will be allowed to be called as a witness for the defense. Frumkin is a forensic clinical psychologist from Miami who specializes in Miranda rights and false confessions.
Swift told News 6 that the federal judge ruled Friday that Frumkin will be allowed to testify at the trial in March.
Last month, Salman's attorneys tried to convince a judge that the statements she made to investigators on June 12, 2016, were obtained unlawfully. Federal prosecutors said that authorities were not required to read Salman her Miranda rights because she was not officially in custody or detained, meaning she was free to go if she wanted.
According to documents with Salman’s statements written by an FBI agent, she said on June 12, that Mateen took a black bag "full of ammunition with him," and told her "I will be home after prayer” hours ahead of the mass shooting.
"I am sorry for what happened I wish I'd go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do," Salman wrote in her signed statement.
During a visit to Downtown Disney, now Disney Springs, Mateen asked Salman, "What would make people more upset, an attack on Downtown Disney or a club?"
Those are among the statements Salman’s defense team are trying to toss out. No timeline has been given for when the judge will deliver a ruling on what evidence will be permitted during trial.
Salman has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could face life in prison.
Salman's trial is scheduled to begin in March in Orlando.
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