Noor Salman, widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen, will stand trial in Orlando, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Paul Byron denied Salman’s request to move the proceeding to a new city where she could find a more impartial jury.
“The Court finds that the pretrial publicity in this case does not satisfy the prejudicial and inflammatory prong of the analysis, and the volume of coverage does not rise to the level of saturation,” Byron wrote in an order.
Salman has been charged with obstruction of justice and providing material support to a terror organization. Her husband killed 49 people and injured dozens more on when he opened fire in the gay nightclub on June 12, 2016.
Prosecutors maintain Salman knew her husband was going to carry out an attack of some kind and later lied to police to impede the investigation. They allege she watched him leave their home with a gun and a backpack full of ammunition on the night of the attack. Additionally, Salman reportedly accompanied her husband on scouting trips to Disney World and the Disney Springs shopping complex, where Mateen asked her if attacking the mall would have a bigger impact than a gay nightclub.
“She knew he was going to conduct the attack,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Roger Handberg said in February. A month later, Byron revoked Salman’s bail.
In September, her attorneys claimed media coverage and statements from local officials created a prejudicial environment. (Orlando Police Chief John Mina tweeted he was “glad” Salman was standing trial.) “To enumerate all the articles relating to Ms. Salman’s investigation, indictment, arrest, and trial proceedings would require pages and pages of exhibits appended to this motion,” wrote her attorney, Charles Swift.
Byron insisted the court was instituting precautions to ensure a fair trial, including having potential jurors fill out questionnaires, which attorneys can use to eliminate some from the jury pool.
The trial is set to begin in March.