Monday, April 2, 2018

A Day Without a Jury or Defendant in the Noor Salman Trail

There is some sensitive content and disturbing details included within. If you feel you may be affected, please do not read this post.

 One day of the trial had no jury or defendant. Noor Salman had the day off. The courtroom 4B rules were relaxed and I was permitted to sit inside courtroom 4B as a member of the public. I was issued a blue slip and told to sit on the court right general public spectator benches.  The day was spent going over a laundry list of what the jury must consider when coming to a verdict. The jury would have to be  unanimous on the charge that Noor aided and abetted her husband Omar Mateen in the mass murder committed at Pulse Nightclub. The prosecution went over a list of what items would be considered aiding and abetting.

1. Noor texted Omar on the night of the attack and told him to tell his mom that he is out with Nemo. This cover story made it seem like Noor was covering for her husband's actions.
2. The "casing" activities at City Place in West Palm Beach  on June 4-5, 2016. The timeline for this activity was later debunked with cell phone data. There was not enough time for the casing to have occurred. It was still a strange trip to take very late at night with their son Zac who usually went to bed by 9 PM.
3. A May 31, 2016 purchase of ammunition for Omar's work firearm at Walmart Supercenter. Noor and her son Zac were on that shopping trip. The prosecution wanted to imply that she encouraged the purchase. Omar's work firearm was not used in the Pulse Nightclub attack.
4. The fact that Noor knew about the new rifle gun case in the family car, because she didn't want it in the car when she took her driving test. The prosecution claimed that she was getting a Florida driver's license for the first time because she knew Omar would not be around to drive after the Pulse attack, and the defense said she wanted to be able to drive to bring her son to school.
5. On June 8, 2016, four days before the attack, Noor got her license, shopped at bass Pro shop where Omar got Ammo, went to the Florida Mall where Omar bought her some very expensive jewelry. The woman who sold them the ring noticed a tear in Noor's eye. Was she happy or sad? The purchase of the over $7000 ring was considered an enticement to lie or at least not tip off authorities to what Omar was about to do.They then went to Disney Springs, an Arab Restaurant and a mosque. It was on this night that the prosecutors though Noor and Omar went to Pulse but there wasn't enough time to drive around for 20 minutes.
6. The excessive spending in the month of June leading up to the attack.
7. Omar made Noor a beneficiary of his savings and checking accounts in the event of his death.

The prosecution would have to prove to the jury that Noor knew of Omar's intent to mass murder innocent civilians with his act of Jihad. They wanted to stress that she was at a repeated series of very important junctures leading up to the attack.  Going to the gun range was a red flag for prosecutors. She told no one about the purchase of the rifle.

The defense countered that the prosecution provided no evidence that Noor knew what "the Act" was going to be. There is no evidence that she supports ISIS. During the course of the trial holes were poked in each of Noor's six statements written by FBI agent and signed by her. Since she and Omar never went to Pulse before, it seemed to imply that FBI agents had planted information in her testimony.

The afternoon was spent going over the instructions for the jury. Each paragraph was meticulously picked apart to be sure both prosecutors and the defense were satisfied with the wording.

Noor did not plan to testify and the jury would be instructed not to consider this as a presumption of guilt. The jurors would have to weigh the testimony from each witness. They would have to consider the circumstances and weather the witness was credible or reliable. They would need to consider the witnesses age, and training.

Omar provided material support to the Islamic state. Did Noor intend to aid in the material support of ISIS? The prosecution wanted to point out that aiding and abetting can be done with a happy heart, or a sense of foreboding. Did she intend to bring about the crime? On the count of Obstruction of justice, did Noor mislead FBI agents with the statement she made on the morning after the Pulse Nightclub attack. Dis she knowingly leave things out of her statements? Once someone chooses to testify, they must do so truthfully. The venue for the obstruction of justice charge was Central Florida. Since Noor lived in Fort Pierce, the prosecutors needed to prove that her statement were intended to mislead investigators in Central Florida.

The instructions acted as a framework for the jury's deliberations.

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