ORLANDO, Fla. - On the sixth day of jury selection in the trial for the widow of the Pulse nightclub gunman, one potential juror was dismissed after saying he believes he would view Noor Salman as a terrorist.
Juror #290, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force and works at Patrick Air Force base, said he has been involved with the country’s war on terror since 2001.
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“I would view her as a terrorist,” Juror No. 290 said, adding that he believes Salman should be tried in a military court.
That juror was one of 16 that U.S. District Judge Paul Byron questioned Thursday. Nine of those potential jurors were dismissed and seven remained in the pool.
The day began with 42 in the pool but two of those potential jurors were removed due to conflicts in their work or personal lives, bringing the total number of potential jurors to 47 by the time court recessed Thursday.
One of those potential jurors could be removed if his company does not pay for jury service.
Byron plans to establish a pool of about 60 jurors before the final 12 and six alternates are selected.
Salman is facing two federal charges in connection with her husband's mass shooting at Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead and dozens of others injured. She's accused of aiding and abetting in Omar Mateen’s attack and obstructing justice by lying to FBI investigators after the fact.
The nine potential jurors who were dismissed Thursday were generally quick to admit biases.
Juror #278 was direct in telling the court that he had a feeling Salman was guilty and that he would struggle to remain fair.
"(My) personal opinion? Directly responsible? No. Partially? Maybe," Juror No. 278 said of Salman, adding that he believes she could have alerted authorities before the mass shooting.
He was dismissed.
Another juror, a woman who works in the field of research overseeing medical studies, made it through most of the questioning without a hitch until the very end when she mentioned that she has several friends and loved ones who are members of the LGBTQ community and she thinks it would be difficult for her to remain fair because of that.
“I do not feel I could be impartial because of the community targeted,” Juror No. 212 said.
Byron cautioned her that even though Pulse was a gay nightclub, the court case won’t be focusing in on that since evidence suggests that Mateen wasn’t specifically aiming to target members of the LGBTQ community during his attack.
Juror No. 212 was dismissed after about 30 minutes of questioning.
Those jurors who remained in the pool after questioning on Thursday did cite certain beliefs on how Muslim women are treated in the Islamic community and how police interact with minorities, but they assured Byron that those opinions would not influence their judgment if they were to sit on the jury.
One juror, who works at a law firm doing market research and providing client services, said one of her coworkers was at Pulse the night of the attack and was injured because she fell and someone stepped on her hand.
“I don’t believe that would affect me,” Juror No. 292 replied when asked if her connection to the survivor would cause her to be biased.
In her questionnaire, Juror No. 292 indicated she had questions about why someone would orchestrate a mass shooting and the motivation behind the attack. She suggested that perhaps Mateen was “weak-willed in some kind of way.”
Byron allowed Juror No. 292 to remain in the pool.
Many of the 47 jurors who remain in the pool thus far have indicated that they are educated, about middle aged and work in fields that involve science and math.
Salman was once again in court with her attorney, Linda Moreno. She tapped her attorney’s shoulder occasionally then leaned in close to discuss the proceedings. So far, Salman has not addressed the court.
Byron expects that opening statements in the trial could be held Wednesday.
Salman faces life in prison if convicted.
Follow live updates from inside the federal courthouse from the News 6 team below:
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