FBI agent testifies 'no evidence' Salman had been to Pulse

- The trial of the Noor Salman, the widow of gunman who took 49 lives at Orlando's Pulse Nightclub in 2016, entered its seventh day on Thursday. 

Salman, 31, is on trial in federal court for aiding and abetting her husband and with obstruction of justice, for lying to federal agents. She's pleaded not guilty. If convicted, she could get life in prison.

The prosecution began Thursday by presenting Facebook pictures from December 2014 and April 2016 to jurors. These photographs showed Salman with a set of rings on her left ring finger. 

Michael McFarlane, an FBI electronics engineer, also spoke to jurors, as he reviewed data deletion methods on cell phones. He concluded that the text messages deleted from Salman's phone were most likely deleted by the user.

Cross-examination asserted the idea that the user was deleting conversations as they concluded and would therefore be in an unallocated space on the phone, and older exchanges would not be stored in a recoverable way.

The testimony of FBI Special Agent Richard Fennern also took place on Thursday. During his testimony, the prosecution linked together elements from past testimony to show Mateen’s approximate location as he made searches for ISIS and terror-related targets on June 4.

Using cell tower data and turnpike cameras, they were able to show Mateen and Salman’s trip to City Place in West Palm Beach around midnight on June 5. This lines up with a trip described in Salman’s June 12 statement to the FBI.

Other surveillance video from Best Buy, Florida Mall, and and other retail stores mentioned in previous testimony were also shown to the jury.

Testimony also covered cell phone data from the night of June 8, when Mateen and Salman visited Orlando with their son. Cell data and surveillance video showed Mateen and Salman at Disney Springs, before they visited a mosque and an Arabic cuisine restaurant in Orlando, which again supports lines from Salman’s statement to the FBI.

Fennern concluded that it would not be possible for the couple to have gone near the Pulse club during this trip.

Video surveillance and bank records also showed Mateen withdrawing money from his PNC bank account on June.  Mateen’s search history on that day continues to highlight terror-related topics and webcams in the Orlando/Disney Springs area.

Agent Fennern said the evidence came up before Salman’s bond hearing.  U.S. District Judge Paul Byron expressed concern.  He had revoked Salman's bond which was granted to her by a federal judge in California, based on FBI statements claiming Salman and her husband drove around Pulse for 20 minutes.  She has been in jail ever since.

"We know the justice system can take care of it, but the way it’s been handled -- that's wrong," said Bassam Salman, Noor's uncle, after hearing testimony that there is no GPS evidence showing his niece was at Pulse with Mateen days before the shooting.

"The FBI had evidence, hard evidence that they had not gone to Pulse and searched it on the Internet.  That was something that was not true, something that was written by the government," said Salman Family spokesperson Susan Clary.

On Wednesday, jurors heard from the gunman's sister and mother and Salman's character. It was also revealed that, according to the Orlando Sentinel, the gunman's last text to his wife before he was shot and killed by police:  "I love you babe."

The trial began last Wednesday  Prosecutors rested their case against Salman on Thursday, meaning a verdict is possible sometime next week.

 

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