After three days of deliberation, a jury found Noor Salman not guilty of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization. If convicted, the widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub in 2016 faced life in prison.
Ms. Salman, who was born in California to Palestinian parents, wiped tears from her eyes after the first not guilty verdict was read in court. By the last verdict, she was openly sobbing in the court. Her uncle jumped out of his chair after the verdict was read.
“I’ve come here to tell you I told you so,” he told the media outside the courthouse. “I’ve known she is innocent.”
Defense attorneys argued Ms. Salman was a simple-minded woman with a low IQ. They said she was abused by her husband, who cheated on her with other women and concealed much of his life from her.
The trial exposed prosecutorial misconduct and stunning omissions by the federal government, including the revelation Mateen’s father, Seddique Mateen, was an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for more than a decade.
Under both Robert Mueller and James Comey, the FBI was aware that Mr. Mateen made money transfers to Turkey and Afghanistan to support attacks by Islamic extremists against the Pakistani government.
They did nothing. FBI Special Agent Juvenal Martin testified that he considered developing the shooter as an informant after closing an investigation into comments he made at work in 2013 about belonging to terrorist organizations.
The defense requested a mistrial, but U.S. District Judge Paul Byron denied it.
“This trial is not about Seddique Mateen,” Judge Byron said. “It’s about Noor Salman.”
The prosecution was also scolded by Judge Byron for lying about whether Ms. Salman cased the Pulse nightclub with her husband, something the FBI knew was untrue “within days” of the shooting.