Widow of Pulse nightclub shooter acquitted on all counts
iStock/Thinkstock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — Noor Salman, the wife of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, was declared not guilty on all counts Friday morning.
She faced charges of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization. She faced life in prison if convicted.
“The family is elated,” said Susan Clary, a family spokeswoman, outside of court after the verdict. “Noor can go home now to her son … resume her life and try to pick up the pieces from two years in jail.”
Prosecutors and defense attorneys painted radically different pictures of Salman over the course of the trial: on the one hand, helping her husband prepare for the attack and on the other, an abused woman who “married a monster.”
“The family always thought that Noor was the first victim of Omar Mateen,” Clary said Friday.
Al Salman, Noor’s uncle, who Clary said has acted as her father figure, was overjoyed at the news.
He said Friday was a “Good Friday for everybody. It’s Holy Friday for Muslims and Good Friday for Christians.”
“We [are] looking forward to taking my niece and hire a therapist for her,” he added. “I don’t know how she’s going to make up for the last two years.”
The trial started two weeks ago in U.S. District Court in Orlando, Florida.
The court is about two miles away from the site of the nightclub where Mateen killed 49 people and injured 58 others in the June 12, 2016, attack. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.
On Thursday, the jury opted not to take an additional hour to deliberate, instead choosing to come back on Friday with the verdict.
One of Noor Salman’s attorneys, Fritz Schellar, said that immediately after the verdict was read, “she was overwhelmed, we were all overwhelmed.”
“There’s rejoicing but there’s sorrow because she’s been in prison for over a year, separated from her son,” Schellar said.
John Mina, the chief of the Orlando Police Department, released a statement following the verdict, saying he believes in the criminal justice system and is thankful for the hard work of the jurors, attorneys and the FBI involved in the case.
“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 the statement.
“Our community is strong, and the men and women of the Orlando Police Department stand ready to put themselves in harm’s way to protect our residents and visitors,” he said.
However, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said he was “disappointed.”
“I am disappointed in the outcome of the trial and know that the victims and/or their families are more disappointed,” Demings said in a statement.
“This has been an emotional event for our community and many may feel that justice has not prevailed; however, the system of justice has spoken and we should look to the continued healing for the families and our entire community so that this event will not define us,” he said.
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