Saturday, March 17, 2018

What evidence should the jury see in the Noor Salman trial?

After the jury was selected, lawyers and the judge held a closed session in which they tried to tie up some loose ends about what evidence should be presented in court on the opening day of the trial with the jury. In contention were graphic audio and video recordings. The defense wants to limit the amount of violent content which might re-traumatize families of victims, as well as survivors, who come to the trial. There is so much police body cam footage that it all can't be seen. The defense felt that all this evidence is against Omar Mateen, the gunman, and that it has little to do with Noor Salman.

This jury trial is going to great lengths to protect the identities of jurors and witnesses. One witness, nicknamed Nemo, will never have his real name associated with his friend Omar Mateen. Nemo was apparently used as an excuse when Omar wanted to cheat on his wife. Motion 287 was raised by the defense and it precluded the prosecutors from making certain allegations in their opening statements. If a founding statement cannot be proven throughout the trial it should not go in the opening statements. Judge Paul G. Byron however denied this limitation. He feels that the jurors should be able to decide for themselves if the statements are proven. Any opening statement is not to be considered as evidence.

Points of contention were:
  • Making the statement that Omar Mateen was targeting a gay club.
  • The notion that Omar Mateen visited the Pulse website on June 10, 2016. The IP addresses were not found or verified. He logged out of Google on June 10, 2016 at about the same time as Noor claimed that he showed her the Pulse website. He may have switched to Chrome incognito which hides suspicious web activity.
  • Mateen's purchase of ammunition at Walmart Supercenter while with Noor.
  • The fact that Noor was put on the bank accounts just prior to the attack.
  •  In the final days, Mateen's expenses far outweighed his income.
  • A cellphone call by Angel Colon wounded in the bathroom of Pulse was not allowed. "They are shooting up the place." Angel shouted. The call was thrown out because it would already be clearly established that there were hostages in the bathroom.
Two 911 calls from victims inside the Pulse Nightclub bathroom were discussed. The defense argued that those calls were hearsay and should not be heard by the jury. 64 individual pieces of evidence are to be admitted into evidence. There will be testimony from 6 responding officers and witnesses from all aspects of that evening's response to the attack at the club.

A phone conversation with Omar Mateen stated that he will not harm African Americans although he had already shot and killed African Americans on the dance floor. The fact that Pulse is a home and and safe place for the LGBTQ community was not considered to be the crux of the case by Judge Paul G. Byron.  A 27 second long call with Mateen in which he mentioned a fake suicide vest and explosives was allowed into evidence. All police traffic, car cams, and body cam footage already submitted was allowed to be shown in court. All Walmart Super Center receipts that showed joint spending on such things as Ammo and house hold items was allowed.

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