OAKLAND, Calif. — The widow of the gunman who killed dozens at an Orlando nightclub will be released on bail while she awaits trial, a federal judge in California ruled Wednesday.
Noor Salman isn’t a flight risk and does not pose a danger to the community, said US Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu.
Omar Mateen killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub on June 12, 2016, before being shot and killed by police. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history.
Salman is accused of obstruction of justice, and aiding and abetting Mateen’s material support to ISIS. She has pleaded not guilty.
The 31-year-old appeared in a courtroom in Oakland, wearing an orange jumpsuit. She will live with her uncle in Northern California, and will have to wear an electronic ankle monitor.
Salman’s uncle said he was willing to be Salman’s custodian. Part of his house in Rodeo will be used to secure the $500,000 bond for her release. He would be held in contempt of court if there are any violations.
Salman is scheduled to be released Friday. Her next court appearance has been set for March 9. A trial hasn’t been scheduled.
Orlando Police Chief John Mina said he was disappointed with the ruling.
In a statement, he said: “Nothing can erase the pain we all feel about the senseless and brutal murders of 49 of our neighbors, friends, family members and loved ones. But I have full faith that she will ultimately be brought to justice…”
Salman has been in custody since her arrest at her parents’ home in the San Francisco suburb of Rodeo on January 16.
Her lawyer, Charles Swift, sought Salman’s release to her family, adding they would be willing to move to Florida, as prosecutors have said they want the case heard there.
He filed a motion for her release pending her trial, stating: “It is clear Noor poses no danger to any person or the community.”
In February, Judge Ryu ordered Salman to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. Ryu said if there is a trial, it could take place in Florida.
Defense says Salman was abused by Mateen
Salman’s attorney and her family maintain that she didn’t know that Mateen was going to carry out the killings at the Orlando club on June 2016.
Salman and Mateen married in 2011, settled in Florida, and had a son, who is now 4 years old.
Court documents filed by her defense lawyer say that Mateen was a violent and abusive man who “threatened to kill her if she left.” Salman said her husband abused steroids, which led to weight gain and erratic moods.
Swift wrote in a motion for her release that Salman is not religious at all and that her connection to the crime was only through “her tragic marriage” to Mateen.
“Noor, unlike other terrorism defendants, was only present as a wife, and an abused wife at that,” the defense motion stated.
What the prosecutors say
In contrast, investigators say Salman acted of her own free will and knowingly took steps to obstruct the probe into the massacre.
A law enforcement official also had told CNN that Salman’s assertions she was coerced through her husband’s abusive behavior did not stand up.
Her indictment alleges, without elaborating, that Salman “did knowingly aid and abet” her husband from at least April onward and that after the shooting, she “did knowingly mislead” investigators.
An official told CNN on condition of anonymity that evidence will show she was complicit and had to know her husband was going to do something terrible.