Sunday, April 8, 2018

Closing Statements in the Noor Salman Trial

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

 The court day began with Judge Paul G. Byron wanting to get a confirmation from Noor Salman that she did not want to testify in court. She spoke for the first time with a quiet "No." Sarah Sweeney presented the prosecution's closing statements. She would go through the several hundred items of evidence and use that to prove what Salman knew and what she did leading up to the attack. She said that everything Salman did was a green light for her husband to attack. Exhibits 1-99 covered Noor Salman's written statements and evidence from her apartment. Exhibits 100-199 revolved around Pulse and the exhibits from 200 and up involved banking and spending.

The first part of the prosecution's case involved proving obstruction of justice. She pointed out that Noor gave misleading information to Lieutenant William Hall, Agent Christopher Mayo, Agent T.J. Sypniewski, and Agent Ricardo Enriquez. She gave false statements and partial statements tat were intended to obscure the full truth. She claimed that Omar Mateen disconnected Facebook in 2013 and yet she communicated with him via Facebook in 2014. She claimed that her husband didn't use the Internet in their apartment. She claimed that her husband was moderate, but an ISIS flag was found in the apartment and he had videos of be-headings on his computer. Mateen left their apartment on June 11, 2016 with a firearm but she claimed he only had one gun. Yet she knew there was a riffle case in their car since she wanted it removed before she took her drivers test. She lied twice saying he was at dinner with Nemo on June11, 2016. The broadest lie was that she didn't know he was going to plan a terrorist attack.

Sweeney changed tack from everything said during the course of the trial saying that the target of the attack that night was NOT the Pulse Nightclub but rather Disney Springs. She also claimed that Noor knew the target was Disney. That would explain Noor's odd comment when Lieutenant William Hall asked her to leave her apartment for questioning. She said, "Are they going to bring me to Disney?" Sweeney also claimed that Noor was confused during questioning and thought that Pulse was at Disney. When Noor could not reach her husband on the night of June11, 2016, she knew that he had committed the attack.

The couples finances consisted of an average monthly credit card bill of $1500. But From June 5 to 15, 2016 the couple spent $26,000. There were gaps in Mateen's Internet browsing activity between 2:09a.m. and 9a.m. in which he might have shown his wife his intended target although it might not have been Pulse. Google history ended on his computer on June 10, 2016 and started again on June 12, 2016 with his search for Eve. 

Proving aiding and abetting was the prosecution's biggest challenge. They needed to show that Noor provided material support to ISIS.  Showing Omar's material support was easy. Sweeney showed a still from the Pulse surveillance camera that showed Omar shooting people at point blank range. But did Noor provide the same support as she slept at home?

The defense closing arguments by Charles Swift brought up some new points in Noor's defense. A baby carriage and doll were found by Omar Mateen's rental van parked near Pulse. But his son is too old for such a carriage. The new theory was that Omar intended to use the baby carriage to transport his rifle into Disney Springs without raising suspicion. If that were the case and Noor was an accomplice, wouldn't it make more sense to have her push the baby carriage? Was she a victim or accomplice? Swift argued Mateen had no reason to involve his wife in his plan to carry out mass murder June 12, 2016. “Why would he tell her?” he said. “I cannot think of an earthly reason for it. I cannot think of one. What could she help him with?”

The defense acknowledged the heartbreaking grief of the community but reminded the jury to look at all the facts. Defense attorney Lisa Morino reminded the jury that Noor simply struggled educationally. She painted a picture of her as a simple housewife who loved her child and was more concerned with reading romance novels that in world politics.That she could not accept money for baby sitting a friends child. Pulse she stressed was a random target. "Where are all the girls at?" Omar asked the Pulse security, meaning he didn't know where he was. Omar didn't respect his wife. Why would he confide in her? She was dependent on him not the other way around. If he didn't know what his target was that night, how could she know? The dead have been given the truth in this trial. The tragedy shouldn't be pinned on Noor. The true terrorist was already killed by police on the evening of the attack. "Don't makeNoor Salman the last victim of Omar Mateen." Swift concluded.

After closing statements, Judge Byron read the 57 pages of jury instructions. Basically they had to decide on two counts. One was obstruction of justice and the other was aiding and abetting.
The jury instructions said convicting Salman “Requires proof that (she was) intentionally associated with or participated in the crime, not just proof that (she) was simply present at the scene of a crime or knew about it." The help can be just about anything including, “financial services, lodging, safe houses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, facilities and weapons." If convicted, Noor could face life in prison.

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