5 things we learned in the trial of the Pulse gunman's widow
New details revealed in federal trial for Noor Salman
ORLANDO, Fla. – Though the fate of the Pulse gunman’s widow is still unknown as the jury continues deliberations, there are multiple new pieces of information that have been revealed through the federal trial itself.
Motions and other key pieces of evidence -- including videos that capture Omar Mateen and Noor Salman making purchases at various stores and cell phone pings revealing their locations -- shed light on what took place in the days and moments leading up to the June 12, 2016, attack.
[COMPLETE COVERAGE: News 6 covers federal trial of Pulse shooter's widow]
Salman is charged with aiding and abetting her husband's attack at Pulse nightclub and obstruction of justice.
Her husband, Omar Mateen, killed 49 people and injured dozens of others when he opened fire inside Pulse before he was shot to death by police.
Below is a list of five major developments from Salman’s trial that provide details not previously known by the public:
Government believes Disney was gunman’s actual intended target
During the trial, both defense and prosecution experts testified that Mateen’s attack on the Pulse nightclub was a last-minute decision, based on evidence from the gunman’s cellphone. During closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney said Mateen first planned to attack Disney Springs and intended to use a baby doll and stroller to hide his rifle.
“(Omar Mateen) knew his plan to attack Disney Springs was not going to work that night,” Sweeney told jurors. “His target was Disney and his wife knew that.”
Sweeney also put two pieces of evidence together for the jury. Evidence photos of the Mateen's rental van at Pulse shown to the jury showed a baby doll toy and an infant stroller. She said this is how he planned to cover the long gun at Disney springs.
Mateen bought the stroller and doll at Walmart on June 11, 2016, around midnight. He planned to use the stroller to hide the rifle so he would not appear suspicious walking through Disney Springs, Sweeney said.
Mateen went to Disney Springs on June 11, however, surveillance video from that night showed a large law enforcement presence.
Cellphone location data indicates that Mateen left the Walt Disney World area at 12:27 a.m. on June 12 and began heading northeast on I-4 toward downtown Orlando not long before the attack.
Gunman stopped at another nightclub before carrying out attack
The same cellphone information that revealed that Mateen left Disney and headed toward Downtown Orlando showed that he actually drove to another nearby nightclub before even arriving at Pulse.
Mateen Googled “Downtown Orlando nightclubs,” and specifically searched for directions to Eve Orlando, the search results show.
Between 12:44 and 1:21 a.m., investigators said Mateen's cellphone connected with several cell towers located near Eve Orlando.
Investigators believe Mateen left Eve and drove south on Orange Avenue toward Pulse nightclub, where he opened fire at 2:02 a.m.
Mateen searched online for help after gun jammed during attack
The gunman was armed with a rifle, a handgun and a knife when he carried out the attack, but it was revealed during opening statements that his rifle jammed after already having sprayed gunfire through the club.
FBI special agents showed the rifle used in the killings to those in the courtroom, saying investigators found that it jammed while they were collecting evidence from inside the club.
The agent said he had to remove the ammunition from the gun in order to safely take it in. While looking at it, he saw that the casing had fired, but the round failed to extract.
Internet search results show that Mateen stopped for a brief time during the shooting and looked up how to fix the jammed weapon.
FBI agents may have known gunman’s widow didn’t case club
An FBI special agent said during his testimony that he knew Salman likely did not help her husband by driving around Pulse nightclub the night of June 8, which was information prosecutors had built their case against her around as they entered the trial.
Salman signed off on a statement in which she allegedly admitted to the FBI that she had been to the club with her husband, which was part of the reason U.S. District Judge Paul Byron said he denied her bail last year when she was arrested.
Cellphone information and video evidence revealed that the Mateen and Salman drove from Ft. Pierce June 8 and spent time at various places in the Orlando area, including the Florida Mall and Disney Springs again after that.
Surveillance cameras show Salman and the couple’s child inside a store there as Mateen wandered around outside at shopping and entertainment complex.
A receipt from King O' Falafel restaurant in nearby Kissimmee indicates Mateen purchased dinner around 10:29 p.m.
In the statement allegedly made by Salman to the FBI the day after the Pulse attack, Salman reportedly told agents she and her husband drove around the Pulse nightclub for about 20 minutes after leaving the Kissimmee restaurant.
Fennern testified Thursday that it would have been "highly unlikely" the couple could have made the trip to Pulse as Salman reportedly described.
The FBI agent told jurors that Salman and Mateen's cellphones had never connected with cellular towers near Pulse until just before Mateen attacked the nightclub.
Also, surveillance video showed Mateen and his son visiting a mosque in Kissimmee at 11:16 p.m. as Salman waited in the car outside. The FBI agent believes the family could not have made the 35-mile round-trip drive to Pulse nightclub in 47 minutes.
The defense argued that the agent’s statement proved a major flaw in the prosecution’s case and that it showed Salman was coerced into making a false confession. Salman’s attorneys then filed a motion requesting that the charges against her be dropped.
“After yesterday’s hearing, they are very upset that Noor continues to be held in jail after much of the evidence has proven false,” family spokeswoman Susan Clary said. “We wish the judge would reconsider bond.”
Byron denied the motion.
Gunman’s father former FBI informant under investigation
The night before Salman’s defense lawyers were to begin presenting their case, they were informed by the U.S. government that Omar Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, was an FBI informant from 2005 to June 2016.
The prosecution also revealed that Seddique Mateen is currently under investigation for sending money to Pakistan and Turkey after documents were found in his home on the day of the Pulse attack. One of the transfers to Turkey happened one week before his son carried out the attack on Pulse.
Salman's attorneys filed a motion asking the judge to dismiss all charges against Salman, saying that the late disclosure of the information prevented them from exploring whether or not Seddique Mateen knew of his son's plans to attack the nightclub on June 12, 2016.
Seddique Mateen was unaware that he is under investigation until the defense filed the motion and notified his attorney.
The government emailed Salman's attorneys after Seddique Mateen was listed as a possible defense witness. The email also said that in 2012, "An anonymous tip indicated that Seddique Mateen was seeking to raise $50,000-$100,000 via a donation drive to contribute toward an attack against the government of Pakistan."
Byron denied the motion and said that the trial was “about Noor Salman and not Seddique Mateen.”
Find more evidence reviewed throughout the trial and learn more about Salman, her defense team and other key players in the case at ClickOrlando.com/NoorSalmanTrial.
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