Noor Salman trial: Judge hopes to finish jury selection this week

By Julie Gargotta and Greg Angel, Team Coverage
Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2018, 5:57 PM EST

Jury selection resumes Monday in the trial of the Pulse shooter's widow, Noor Salman. The judge in the case hopes to have jury selection wrapped up this week.

Jury selection began at 9 a.m., where Salman was due back to the federal courthouse. 

Salman is charged with aiding and abetting, as well as obstructing justice by lying to investigators. Her husband, Omar Mateen, carried out the Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 people. Mateen, who pledged his allegiance to ISIS, was killed during the attack.

The judge in the case is still working to build a jury pool of about 60 people, to then allow attorneys to whittle that down to the final 12.

Federal judge Paul Byron is building a wall of sorts to block out bias and opinions.

Like a doctor in surgery, Byron uses his questions like a scalpel, trying to uncover any potential hidden bias that could corrupt the case.

Today one juror was dismissed after saying her belief of Islam is that women must obey their husbands, therefore she believed there was no way Noor Salman did not know what her husband was planning.

One of the issues that came up on the first two days of jury selection was potential jurors' connections to victims and physical proximity to Pulse.

The trial is happening just two miles from where the June 2016 shooting went down.

One person shared with the judge that he works in the medical field and treated 24 Pulse victims; he was excused.

Another potential juror said that a coworker at Universal Orlando Resort was killed in the terror attack.

"Finding jurors that don't have a personal impact in the community where it happens can be challenging and that's why the judge is going through so many potential jurors to weed them out," said David Haas, an attorney not involved with the case.

Encouraging a fair trial 

Outside, many were watching closely.

“We want to make sure Noor Salman gets a fair trial,” said Ahmed Bedier of United Voices For America.

Bedier does not know Noor Salman, but he does know it is the government’s job to prove the case against the Pulse gunman’s widow, who stands accused of helping her husband plot his deadly attack.

“In America, we don’t go after family members of criminals. When people commit crimes, they are held responsible for their own crimes,” he said.

Byron has been repetitive in pointing out that religion is not on trial — a point Bedier wants potential jurors to take to heart.

“We need to make sure we honor the victims, and the best way to honor the victims is to make sure they get justice, and doing that is not to go after someone else and make them a victim if they have nothing to do with the crime,” he said.

Bedier said he wants Salman’s fate to be based solely on the evidence presented, not on any stereotypes of religion.

The judge said that once the trial gets underway, it could take at least three weeks. He also said the trial phase could begin as soon as Monday or Wednesday of next week. 

If convicted, Salman faces life in prison.