Jury selection begins for wife of the Orlando Pulse gay club shooter accused of helping her husband plan the attack
Jury selection has begun in the federal trial of Noor Salman, who is accused of helping her husband, Omar Mateen, shoot and kill 49 people in Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.
On Thursday morning, US District Judge Paul G Byron began questioning jurors one-by-one about their knowledge of the Pulse nightclub shooting and whether they knew anyone connected to the incident or the case.
It took 30 to 40 minutes to question the first potential juror, who was eventually dismissed. Once a jury is selected, the trial could last five weeks, Byron said.
The case hinges on whether Salman knowingly helped Mateen plan the attack; prosecutors say she knew of her husband’s plans, but she denies the claim.
Mateen called 911 from the club to pledge his allegiance to the Islamic State and other Islamic extremist groups.
Salman faces charges of aiding the support of a foreign terrorist organization resulting in death. She has also been charged with obstruction of justice, and faces life in prison if convicted.
Mateen was killed by police in the hours after the June 16, 2016 shooting. Although he is not on trial, the government has to prove Mateen killed in support of the Islamic State.
IS did claim responsibility shortly after the shooting on its al-Bayan Radio station, saying: “One of the Caliphate’s soldiers in America carried out a security invasion where he was able to enter a crusader gathering at a nightclub for homosexuals in Orlando.”
However, although the group claimed responsibility, this did not necessarily mean it directed the attack.
On Wednesday, the judge unsealed some documents in the case. A nurse and a psychologist who evaluated Salman said she was physically abused by her husband and afraid to question him about the attack.