Noor Salman, the wife of Omar Mateen shooter at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL, has been acquitted of charges related to the massacre on June 12, 2016.
During the initial investigation, Salman declared she knew what her husband was up to for weeks leading up to the night he killed 49 and injured 53 in the gay nightclub. In a letter she wrote to an investigator she shared “I am sorry for what happened. I wish I’d go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do,” which lead to accusation of providing misleading statements to law enforcement.
Salman, 31, is now being set free after facing a life sentence in federal prison. Over three days the jury deliberated for more than 12 hours until they finally came to a verdict.
According to the New York Times, Salman wiped tears from her eyes as the verdict was read. She sobbed along with her family in the courtroom meanwhile Pulse victims and families sat in silence dumbfounded at the news.
Linda Moreno, the defense attorney, suggested during the trial that Salman was subject to intimidation and that information and text messages that incriminated Salman had been ‘planted’. Evidence showed that she had not driven past Pulse with her husband which is what was originally believed.
Sarah C. Sweeney, an assistant US attorney, declared that Salman thought Pulse was inside of Disney World, which they indeed had visited, so she was confused as to where Pulse ‘was’. She went on to state that the horrible act by Mateen “wasn’t preplanned” because “if he didn’t know, she couldn’t know.”
Meanwhile, other evidence was conflicting including credit charges that the couple ran upwards of $30,000 and Salman being named as Mateen’s death beneficiary. According to The Washington Post, Salman had also sent a text message to her husband that read “If Ur mom calls say nimo invited you out and noor wants to stay home”—another piece of evidence that through the jury through a loop.
Defense attorneys argued that Mateen was unfaithful and purchased a father’s day gift and travel for the whole family that would take place after the attack—purchases that don’t seem to align with someone who knew they were about to die in a shooting.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina issued a statement after the verdict:
I believe in our criminal justice system and am grateful for the jury’s hard work and thoughtful deliberation. 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.
Meanwhile Orange County Sheriff Jerry L. Demings also said:
I am disappointed in the outcome of the trial and know that the victims and/or their families are more disappointed.
During a demonstration outside of Pulse Nightclub on Friday, Louis Morales, 50, who frequented the club shared, “She may not be guilty, but she’s not innocent. She knew something.”
It’s an extremely difficult day for the victims of Pulse Nightclub, their families, and everyone affected by the horrific events of June 12, 2016. While the conviction of Noor Salman would not have brought anyone back or undone the crime, but the massacre now goes unresolved and still leaves many questioning her involvement. Whether she knew or didn’t know, may she live with the consequences for the rest of her life.