Wife of Orlando nightclub shooter denied request to move trial to another city
Noor Salman, the wife of Omar Mateen, the shooter who massacred 49 people in Pulse gay club in Orlando in June 2016, has been denied a request to move the location of her trial.
She is charged with obstruction of justice and destruction of records, with many believing she could have been able to warn authorities and prevent the attack.
Her attorneys filed a motion in September to have her trial held outside of Central Florida.
They claimed her trial would not be fair, because the huge and constant amount of media coverage of the event would bias the jury.
They cited as evidence a statement from John Mina, the Orlando Police Chief, in which he says he was “glad to see” Salman had been charged with aiding her husband’s attack.
“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,” the statement read.
“But today, there is some relief in knowing that someone will be held accountable for that horrific crime.”
They also cited media coverage against Salman, such as a New York Post headline which claimed “She could have saved them all.”
However federal judge Paul Byron denied the request, citing a Supreme Court ruling that “prominence of media coverage does not necessarily produce prejudicing and juror impartiality does not require ignorance,” the Orlando Sentinel reported.
It is constitutionally required to hold trial in the place that the crime happened, except in very rare, extreme circumstances.
They would have to prove that the community was so widely biased that an impartial jury could not be chosen.
Byron said the media coverage in this case was not “inflammatory” enough, and did not reach the “level of saturation” to justify a location move.
Her trial is scheduled to take place on March 1.
Salman was not immediately arrested after the shooting, but was detained in early 2017. She pled ‘not guilty’ to the charges of aiding and abetting her husband in the attack.
Mateen was killed in a shootout with police at the scene.
The attack was one of the deadliest mass shootings on US soil in recent history, and the deadliest act of violence targeting LGBT people in United States history.
Pulse announced in August that it would be reopening in a new location.
The club has been permanently closed since, and its owner plans to open a memorial there.