A forensic clinical psychologist will be allowed to testify in the trial of the widow of the Pulse nightclub shooter.
Noor Salman is the widow of Pulse nightclub shooter Omar Mateen. Mateen killed 49 people and injured more than 50 others at the Orlando nightclub before police shot and killed him on June 12, 2016. Mateen called 911 from the club and pledged his allegiance to the Islamic State.
Salman was arrested seven months after the shooting. She faces charges of aiding a foreign terrorist organization and obstruction of justice. If convicted, she could face life in prison. Salman, who is represented by attorney Charles Swift, pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On the date of the shooting, FBI Special Agent Ricardo Enriquez, a polygraph examiner, interviewed Salman. The interview was not recorded, but Enriquez wrote down Salman’s statements and had her write a paragraph stating that no one forced her to be there.
During the interview, Salman told Enriquez that Mateen tood a black bag “full of ammunition with him” and that “I will be home after prayer.” She recounted that Mateen once asked her, “What would make people more upset, an attack on Downtown Disney or a club?” Salman also said that she and Mateen had driven around the Pulse nightclub with the windows down for about 20 minutes and that she had seen Mateen looking at the club’s photo online.
Salman shared that Mateen had been obsessed with ISIS recruitment videos and the Middle East for two years prior to the shooting. Salman also said that Mateen spent thousands of dollars in the weeks before the shooting, including on the purchase of a rifle.
Salman wrote in a signed statement, “I knew on Saturday, when Omar left the house about 5 p.m. that this was the time that he was going to do something bad. I knew this because of the way he left and took the gun and backpack with ammunition . . . .” Salman also wrote, “I am sorry for what happened. I wish I’d go back and tell his family and the police what he was going to do.”
Salman’s attorneys argued that statements that Salman made to investigators on June 12, 2016 were obtained unlawfully. Prosecutors argued that the investigators were not required to read Salman her Miranda rights because she was never in official custody or detained — she was free to go at any time.
A Daubert hearing was held in front of federal judge Paul Byron in Orlando to determine whether Dr. Bruce Frumkin, a forensic clinical psychologist, would be allowed to testify at trial on Salman’s behalf. Frumkin holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and is known for his work in capacity to waive Miranda rights, false confessions, and interrogative suggestibility.
Judge Byron ruled that Frumkin will be allowed to testify about Salman’s state of mind when she was being questioned by police.
Salman is scheduled to stand trial in March.