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Noor Salman Trial: The Latest

The Noor Salman trial wraps up this week. Photo: Brendan Byrne
The Noor Salman trial wraps up this week. Photo: Brendan Byrne

Here is what you need to know as the defense begins its case Monday in the trial of the Pulse gunman's widow.

What is Noor Salman charged with?

Salman is charged with obstruction of justice and providing material support  to a terrorist organization. She is accused of knowing about her husband's plans for the 2016 mass shooting that left 49 dead and dozens more wounded at Pulse.

Who will decide her fate?

The jury is composed of 12 women and six men. Six are alternates. The jurors' identities are protected from the public.

What evidence have prosecutors presented?

At the heart of their case are three statements Salman gave to FBI agents in the hours after the massacre. One included the following in what are allegedly her words, "I'm sorry for what happened. I wish I'd go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do."

In the other statements Salman said she knew about her husband's plans and had driven around Pulse with him days earlier, but evidence contradicts that statement.

The FBI agents who interviewed Salman described her demeanor as surprising and unusual. When an agent delivered the news that her husband had "died in a violent incident in Orlando" she initially was silent and didn't ask any follow-up questions.

Prosecutors also have presented graphic videos of the Pulse attack, photos taken hours later of the inside of the Fort Pierce condo Salman shared with her husband and their young son and also evidence collected from the couple's cell phones and computer. The gunman's daily searches included ISIS images and videos especially beheadings, FBI surveillance, bank accounts and credit card debt, and other mass shootings in the United States and abroad.

What has the defense said so far?

Defense attorneys have portrayed Salman as "simple" with a low IQ. They have described her husband as abusive and controlling, someone who kept many secrets from his wife including frequent infidelities. They argue her FBI statements were coerced and are not true. No audio or video recordings of the statements were made.

They say cell phone tower records and GPS show that the couple did not go to Pulse before the shooting and that the gunman's searches suggest his decision to attack Pulse was last-minute.

What has the trial been like for family members and survivors?

For some the trial has represented a first opportunity to see in person the woman whose husband committed the Pulse massacre, and they say that has been difficult.

One mother of a Pulse victim sobbed in the courtroom as a survivor testified about calling her mom from the nightclub's bathroom, she believed for the last time. Other family members and survivors have wiped tears as graphic videos of the attack were shown.

What’s next in her trial?

The judge denied a motion by the defense for an acquittal. The defense is expected to make a motion for Judge Byron to review Salman’s bond in lieu of new testimony that suggest parts of the statements he used to make his decision were false.