Defense in Pulse shooting trial centers on FBI agent's words

The trial of Noor Salman, the widow of the Pulse nightclub gunman, is in its fifth day of testimony in Orlando

Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. — Jurors in the federal trial of the Pulse nightclub gunman's widow on Tuesday got a look inside his Florida condo through crime scene photos taken as FBI agents searched the home.

They also saw some of her husband Omar Mateen's web browsing history, including thumbnails of propaganda and beheading videos created by members of the Islamic State group.

 In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, artwork and signatures cover a fence around the Pulse nightclub, scene of a mass shooting, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
In this Nov. 30, 2016 file photo, artwork and signatures cover a fence around the Pulse nightclub, scene of a mass shooting, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The trial of Noor Salman is in its fifth day of testimony in Orlando. Salman is a 31-year-old mother of one who is charged with aiding and abetting her husband in the attack that left 49 people dead in June of 2016. She is also accused of lying to FBI agents.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that prosecutors could finish presenting their case against Salman on Wednesday or Thursday, meaning a verdict is possible sometime next week. According to courtroom discussions, once the government rests its case, defense lawyers plan to call eight to 10 witnesses. That will be followed by closing arguments by both sides, and then the jury will have the case.

If convicted, Salman could spend life in prison.

On Monday and part of Tuesday, FBI Special Agent Ricardo Enriquez took the stand. He said Salman confessed to knowing Mateen was plotting a massacre.

Defense attorney Charles Swift grilled Enriquez about what he knew about Pulse while he was questioning Salman. In previous testimony, Enriquez said he knew very little, other than that 49 people had been killed in a mass shooting with ties to terrorism.

Enriquez said he woke up June 12, 2016, got coffee and checked the news online, and saw a headline about a shooting in Orlando.

"I don't know if I just read the article or the headline," he added.

Salman's defense views Enriquez's knowledge of the case at the time he questioned Salman as important, since no recordings were made of their conversations. Jurors instead are relying on the agent's transcription of Salman's statements as key evidence in the case.

Swift has suggested Enriquez may have contaminated those statements with information he knew from watching news coverage about the mass shooting.

On Monday, Enriquez described an emotional confrontation with Salman, in which he said she confessed to having knowledge in advance that her husband was planning a massacre.

"I said, 'You know, Noor, I realize that you knew what was going on. You knew,'" Enriquez testified. Salman initially denied it, but relented after reading her first written statement again, he said. "She began to cry, and said, 'I knew,'" he testified on the witness stand Monday.

Mateen, who had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, was killed by police in the hours after the shooting. At the time of the attack, it was the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history. It was surpassed last October by the fatal shooting of 58 people in Las Vegas.

Salman was arrested in 2017 in California, where she was staying with family.

Associated Press
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