Widow of Pulse Nightclub gunman acquitted on all charges in 2016 attack

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Defence attorney Fritz Scheller speaks with members of the media following the acquittal of the Pulse Nightclub gunman's widow Noor Salman in Orlando on Friday. The verdict is a major blow to federal and local law enforcement, which had hailed Salman's arrest last January as a step toward justice and accountability for the massacre.

Prosecutor Sweeney asserted that the case was about what Salman "knew and what she did".

Christine Leinonen, an attorney and former state trooper whose only son was killed in the nightclub massacre, told The Orlando Sentinel she was disappointed but not shocked by the verdict. In fact, the government may have withheld evidence "that could have put Noor in a good light" and Clary said the court might not be finished with the prosecutors for mishandling the case.

Between this apparent shift in the prosecution's narrative, the Global Positioning System data, and the defense's claim that Salman was the naïve and neglected wife of an unfaithful husband - who had no need or reason to seek her assistance in his crime - the jurors found reasonable doubt about her guilt after just 12 hours of deliberation.

Noor Salman began sobbing with joy when the decision was read out at the USA district court in the Florida city.

"I knew when he left the house he was going to Orlando to attack the Pulse nightclub", the statement said. A verdict of not guilty did NOT mean that we thought Noor Salman was unaware of what Omar Mateen was planning to do.

Salman was married to Omar Mateen when he attacked the gay nightclub.

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Al Salman, Noor Salman's uncle, said family members are looking forward to getting Noor back to California to reunite with her 5-year-old son.

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said more bluntly: "I am disappointed in the outcome of the trial and know that the victims and/or their families are more disappointed". They said there will be rejoicing for Salman's being found not guilty, but also sorrow because she has been in prison for a long time. However, we were not tasked with deciding if she was aware of a potential attack.

Meanwhile, other evidence was conflicting including credit charges that the couple ran upwards of $30,000 and Salman being named as Mateen's death beneficiary. Ms Salman's immediate whereabouts were unknown.

But the defense portrayed her as an easily manipulated woman with a low IQ and argued that she signed a false confession because she was exhausted after extensive questioning and feared losing her young son. Authorities had questioned her for 11 hours.

The revelation threatened to upend the case against Salman, but the judge denied the motion, saying it was not relevant to the case against her. "But it's the FBI's policy not to record", Markus said.

Defense attorneys argued that if they had known about Seddique Mateen's Federal Bureau of Investigation status, they may have argued other theories during the trial, including that the Mateen's, rather than Salman, conspired to support ISIS, according to the motion. Prosecutors waited until after they had rested their case to acknowledge that Mateen's father, Seddique Matten, was a government informant.

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