Sunday, January 21, 2018

Noor Salman Federal Court hearing.

Noor Salman, the wife of Omar Mateen, the Pulse Nightclub shooter was in Federal Court in Orlando on Thursday for a pre-trial hearing. Federal prosecutors say that she knew that her husband was going to attack Pulse on the evening of June 12, 2016. This hearing was set to decide which evidence could be allowed in the court case which should begin March 1, 2018. The hearing was set to  decide what evidence jurors could see or not see at the trial.

The defense wants to include testimony from a man nicknamed Nemo who is a friend of Omar's, and he was used as an alibi when Omar was cheating on his wife. Salman told the FBI that her husband went to have dinner with Nemo on the night of the attack. Prosecutors argue that Noor came up with the Nemo story. She send a text to her husband on the night of the attack, saying, "If ur mom calls, say Nemo invited you out and Noor wants to stay home." Was this a cover story, or was it a statement based on what she believed to be true? Nemo plans to plead the 5th amendment id asked to take the stand.

Dr. Bruce Frumkin a forensic clinical psychologist from Miami who specializes in Miranda rights and false confessions made statement to the effect that Salman was intellectually impaired. The prosecutors feel that she is in no way impaired and that statements she made on the evening of June 12 are accurate and incriminating. The doctor will be allowed to testify in March.

The defense had no objections  to evidence of the purchase of a rifle and ammunition at Walmart, or the purchase of airplane tickets and a $7000 diamond ring for Noor. She was signed up for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)  a special supplemental nutrition program for low income families that provides Federal grants to States for supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income women. The defense argued that showing that Noor benefited from the horrific Pulse Nightclub attack would anger the jury. The judge countered that in arson cases, there are certain red flags such as the purchase of life insurance. Mateen might have made these large purchases knowing he would not be around to pay off the maxed out credit card. Mateen and Salman's bank account records will be allowed in court.

The defense wanted to exclude video that showed the couple and their child driving to Disney Springs which is alleged to have been a possible target for the attack. The 6 minute video was shown but only lawyers and the judge could see the screens. The video also showed the couple going to a mosque that evening. The prosecutors were concerned that the child was kept up so late. Defense attorney Swift argued that they obviously aren't familiar with Ramadan, were worshipers fast all day and then stay up late eating and gathering together. "This is not a case against Islam" judge Byron stated. I found it interesting that the defense has a new attorney who wears a hijab which is a veil worn by some Muslim women in the presence of adult males outside of their immediate family. This is a visual clue that made it seem like Noors' religion is under attack. The judge stated that a church is just a church and the evidence would be allowed.

The defense argued that all the video shot inside the nightclub on the night of the attack was prejudicial and should not be allowed. There is so much police video footage, that it seems redundant to show it all. He said that no one denies that what happened that night was horrible, but that evidence should be limited to what Salman did to aid and abet that attack. "Lets have Ms. Salman's trial not Omar Mateens'." said her attorney Charles Swift.

The defense also wanted photos of the couple smiling at a gun range removed as evidence, arguing that it was inflammatory. The judge however said that he has photos of himself at a gun range and that such photos are common. If a juror were upset by a photo of someone smiling at a gun range, they would be weeded out in the jury selection process.

On the evening of the attack, Omar brought a hand gun from his security job to the club. This was a violation of his security company job. That gun was left in the van on the night of the attack. Noor Slamans' gun range membership card will also be allowed to be shown in the March trial.

Salman has pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could face life in prison. 

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