The widow of the gunman who murdered 49 people at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last June will be released on $500,000 bail until she faces trial on charges that she aided his attack, a federal judge in California announced Wednesday.
Despite the fact that Noor Salman’s husband, Omar Mateen, pledged allegiance to several terror organizations during the massacre prior to being killed by police, U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu concluded that there is no evidence that Salman has connections to the Islamic State or holds extremist views.
Prosecutors argued that Salman was a danger to the public, and should remain incarcerated where she will stay for at least two days so the government can appeal the judge’s ruling.
“You’ve got people who are behind bars for selling marijuana but she might be allowed free, how does that make any sense?” asked Christopher Hansen, 32, who was at the Pulse nightclub when the shooting occurred, yet managed to escape. “This whole situation is heartbreaking. It’s going to make it hard to sleep at night – again.”
When asked for comment about the judge’s decision, Salman’s attorney, Linda Moreno, said, “This is extraordinarily rare for a case of this magnitude.” She continued by claiming that the ruling is “a real statement on the weakness” of the case.
Moreno said Salman is eager to get home to her family, and to see her son.
The judge assessed that Salman was not a flight risk and ordered her to wear an electronic ankle monitor while she resides with her uncle in Northern California. Following the Pulse nightclub attack, Salman moved from Orlando to her mother’s home in suburban San Francisco, where she was arrested in January.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said in a statement that he remains optimistic about the charges in the case.
“Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of our 49 neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones,” Mina said. “But I have full faith that [Salman] will ultimately be brought to justice and I remain grateful to federal authorities.”
Salman’s mother and uncle put up their houses as a collateral guarantee that Salman will not flee. The judge defined the conditions of Salman’s release as “essentially house arrest.” Salam will only be permitted to leave for court appearances, meetings with her local attorneys and doctor’s appointments.
Salman is accused of accompanying Mateen on scouting trips to the Pulse nightclub, but she has pleaded not guilty to charges of aiding and abetting him, and lying to investigators after the shooting. A trial date has not been set.
According to in-court statements by federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney, Salman initially claimed not to know anything about the attack, but later reported to investigators that Mateen abused steroids, was “pumped up” on the night of the attack and said “this is the one day” as he walked out the door.
Sweeney added that the couple amassed $25,000 in credit card debt and spent $5,000 in cash in the days before the massacre. One of the items purchased was an $8,000 diamond ring for Salman. Mateen also made Salman the death beneficiary of his bank account.
Salman’s attorney, Charles Swift, claims that she made those statements without an attorney present during an 18-hour interrogation immediately following the attack.
H/T: Orlando Sentinel
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