ORLANDO, Fla. - On Sunday, defense attorneys representing the widow of the Pulse Nightclub shooter asked the judge to reconsider allowing certain statements she made to the FBI to be used during trial.
The defense argues that differences in an FBI agent's testimony at trial was significantly different than at a hearing on whether to suppress the evidence.
Specifically, the defense argues the agent said Salman told him "I want to go home" instead of saying that she never asked to return home, which is what the agent said at the suppression hearing.
Salman's lawyers argue her statements to the FBI after the attack shouldn't be shown to jurors during her upcoming trial.
Prosecutors allege that Salman not only knew Mateen was planning the attack, she actively helped him.
Salman's attorneys counter that she had no idea of his plans and that he frequently lied to her.
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Salman, 31, faces charges of aiding a terrorist organization and obstruction of justice.
The crux of the decision to allow evidence hinged on whether Salman believed she was in police custody starting in the early-morning hours of June 12, 2016, and if so, whether she should have been read her Miranda rights earlier and whether anything she said prior to the reading should be thrown out.
Prosecutors argue that there has been abundant testimony illustrating that, although she was placed in a patrol car, Salman was sitting, without handcuffs, holding her child, with the door open and her movement unrestricted.
The judge had tough questions regarding testimony that Salman agreed to have her home searched, to exit her home, etc. Those elements seemed to be persuasive, though we won’t know for sure until he makes his ruling at some point in the future. #WFTV— Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) December 22, 2017
They also argue that Salman didn’t say anything incriminating until after she was ultimately Mirandized in conjunction with a polygraph exam.
One key element of the government’s argument was an excerpt from one of Salman’s early written statements. She wrote, “I don’t want my in-laws to hate me,” an apparent reference to what she told investigators on the day in question.
The government argued Salman knew she had implicated herself and her husband in the attack, but had no idea her statements would become public knowledge and feared backlash from her husband's family.
The defense argued that the fact that her home was searched, she was put in a patrol car and was surrounded by law enforcement officers would be enough for Salman to know she was not free to go.
Frankly, the judge seemed suspicious of this contention at best. He repeatedly challenged the defense’s assertions during closing arguments by recounting his memories of yesterday’s testimony. #WFTV https://t.co/913TNr6NKf— Field Sutton (@FSuttonWFTV) December 22, 2017
In court, an FBI agent who interviewed Salman the day after the shooting testified that he knew right away that Salman’s statements were concerning.
The FBI agent said Salman said she and Mateen drove around the nightclub for 20 minutes with the windows down.
The agent said Salman told her Mateen had said, “How upset are people going to be when it gets attacked?,” and days before the attack, said “(Pulse) is my target.”
Salman ended up signing papers admitting she lied to the FBI.
In three written statements given to the FBI, which were released Friday, Salman ultimately admitted she lied to agents.
She was not arrested at the time.
Her first written statement had a timestamp of 2:32 p.m. June 12, 2016; the second was written an hour later; and the third a little more than an hour after that.
In the third statement, Salman wrote that "I knew when (Mateen) left the house he was going to Orlando to attack the Pulse nightclub."
The statement, though, is not enough for a conviction; prosecutors have to prove that Salman actively helped her husband plan and carry out the attack.
Unanimous verdict request
Prosecutors also challenged a request by her defense Sunday that the judge require a unanimous verdict to qualify for a conviction for one of the charges against her.
The arrest of Noor Salman after the attack was based on two charges from the federal government: That she aided and abetted her husband, Omar Mateen, and that she tampered with evidence afterward.
It’s the second charge for obstruction of justice that the defense asked the judge to require a unanimous verdict for.
But in a six-page filing, prosecutors argued the request should be denied.
Prosecutors argued the jury does “not have to agree unanimously on which facts justify that result or on a specific act of misleading conduct.”
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