March 30 (UPI) — A Florida jury on Friday acquitted Noor Salman — the widow of Pulse nightclub gunman Omar Mateen — as an accomplice in the attack.
Salman, 31, was acquitted of all charges that accused her of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. A conviction could have brought life in prison.
Salman was arrested months after Mateen’s June 11, 2016, attack on the Orlando, Fla., club that killed 49 people. Mateen was ultimately killed by police at the scene. Prosecutors accused her of lying to FBI agents.
Salman cried when the verdict was read, along with her cousin and two uncles. Spokesman Susan Clary said the widow was “elated” she could “go home to her son.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeny said although they were “disappointed”, they respected the jury’s decision.
“This case is about what she knew and what she did,” Sweeney said at trial. “The defendant didn’t pull the trigger that night, but she did serve as a green light for her husband.”
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he was “grateful for the jury’s hard work and thoughtful deliberation.”
“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said in a statement. “I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Florida and the FBI, who have worked tirelessly on this case in the quest for justice.”
Salman’s attorneys argued she was not an accomplice in the case, but a victim.
“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?”
This month, FBI Special Agent Ricardo Enriquez testified that Salman told investigators she was aware her husband was preparing to commit a violent act — and said she’d wished she “had done the right thing.”
“She began to cry and said, ‘I knew,'” Enriquez said.
In the days leading up to the attack, Salman was recorded on surveillance cameras accompanying Mateen on a shopping spree for clothing, toys for their son and jewelry.
On the first day of trial, however, defense attorney Linda Moreno said Salman was a “trusting, simple” woman with an IQ of 84 who was clueless about her husband’s plans to attack the nightclub.
“Omar Mateen is a monster. Noor Salman is a mother, not a monster. Her only sin is she married a monster,” Moreno said.