Noor Salman, the widow of the Pulse nightclub gunman, was found not guilty Friday morning, CNN reports. Salman was charged with obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting Mateen in providing of material support to a foreign terror organization. If she had been convicted, she could have been sentenced to life in prison. The Noor Salman verdict comes after jurors began deliberating the federal case Wednesday afternoon.
Federal jurors in Orlando, Florida, weighed the charges in connection with her husband’s 2016 killing spree in which he entered Pulse nightclub on the night of June 12, 2016, and murdered 49 people there. Prosecutors said Salman aided Mateen ahead of his spree, then lied to the FBI in an attempt to thwart the investigation.
“This case is about what she knew and what she did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney said. “The defendant didn’t pull the trigger that night, but she did serve as a green light for her husband.”
Salman’s attorneys argued their client was not an accomplice but a simple-minded victim of her husband’s infidelity and lies.
“She doesn’t go to the mosque, she searches for Hello Kitty on her website,” defense attorney Charles Swift said in his closing argument. “We’re supposed to believe she had long conversations with Omar Mateen about jihads?”
They also cast Salman as a mother and a victim of Mateen’s abuse and infidelity, as well as of the FBI’s coercive investigators. “Omar Mateen is a monster. Noor Salman is a mother, not a monster. Her only sin is she married a monster,” defense attorney Linda Moreno told jurors.
Mateen’s family and friends took to the stand describing her as a peaceful person and a good mother. They said Salman is not capable of being “calculating,” “deceptive” or “able to connect the dots.”
“Nothing harmful would come out of her,” a friend of Salman’s told jurors.