Judge denies motion filed for acquittal in trial of Pulse gunman's widow

Defense plans to seek bond for Noor Salman

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist

Federal prosecutors speak to Judge Paul Byron about a possible Brady rule violation in the Noor Salman trial on March 22, 2018.

ORLANDO, Fla. - A U.S. District judge denied Noor Salman's attorneys motion to dismiss all charges against her Friday, one day after the prosecution rested its case against the widow of the Pulse gunman and the defense said the had not proven that she aided and abetted Omar Mateen.

The motion was filed after an FBI special agent testified that cellphone tower evidence shows Mateen and Salman could not have driven by the Pulse nightclub on June 8, which is reflected in a statement Salman allegedly gave to the FBI.

Byron questioned the expert about when the FBI learned that fact, because the U.S. government cited the casing of Pulse as one of the reasons to deny Salman bond in February 2017.

Before he addressed the motion in court Friday, U.S. District Judge Paul Byron had the government prosecutors explain exactly how they believe the evidence they have presented shows Salman actively helped Mateen before he killed 49 people.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney said Noor's alleged cover story of saying Mateen went to his friend Nemo's, the casing of Disney Springs and City Place and the highly unusual spending in the days before the shooting prove aiding and abetting.

[Video: Spokeswoman for Noor Salman's family discusses judge's denial of motion to acquit]

Sweeney said the purchases of more than $8,000 in jewelry and other items Salman encouraged her silence and eventual lie for her husband.

Salman's lawyer Charles Swift was wildly motioning in court while arguing that his clients presence at two ammunition purchases doesn't prove she was a willing participant. Swift also argued because she knew Mateen looked at ISIS material doesn't mean she knew he was planning an attack for the Islamic State.

“These things that the government has have classically not been enough,” Swift said of showing Salman supported her husband.

Byron cited Salman’s FBI statement, saying, “If the jury concludes the statements are true, she is attributed to have said ‘I knew.’”

Based on the statement she gave to the FBI when she said she knew when her husband left that day what he was going to do, it’s hard to explain that when she told people he was with his friend, Nemo, that she did not know that was a lie, Byron said. 

The judge also said if she provided Mateen with that cover story it could be interpreted as encouragement.

Byron denied the motion for both charges. The jury will hear the defense present its case next week.

Friday afternoon, both parties and the judge will go over jury instruction, which are the legal requirements the jurors are told to follow while deciding a case.

After the motion was denied, Salman’s family and representatives said her attorneys plan to ask again for her bail. Salman has been in jail since January 2017.

[EXPERTS DISCUSS SALMAN TRIAL: Morning preview | Noon briefing | Evening recap]

“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.”

Civil rights lawyer Ahmed Bedier pointed out that Thursday jurors learned that parts of that statement about casing the Pulse nightclub are false.

“They’ve established that Mateen is a monster that killed those individuals, no one is denying that, but when it comes to evidence that Noor Salman participated, the evidence is not there,” Bedier said. “A lot of it just relies on this one statement that was written by Agent Enriquez. It was not written by Noor Salman it was written by Agent Enriquez.”

Follow live updates from the courthouse below.

 

 

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