OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to release the widow of theman who killed dozens of people at a Florida nightclub after prosecutors said she accompanied her husband on scouting trips for potential targets that included a Disney shopping complex.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland said she wanted a psychiatric evaluation done of Noor Salman before deciding whether to release her from jail pending a trial on charges of supporting her husband’s attack and then lying to investigators about it. Salman, 31, has pleaded not guilty.
Federal authorities arrested Salman last month at her mother’s home in suburban San Francisco, where Salman moved with her 4-year-old son after her husband Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others on June 12 at the Pulse nightclub.
Mateen pledged allegiance to several terror organizations during the attack before police shot and killed him.
Federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney divulged some details of the allegations for the first time while arguing against the release of Salman.
Sweeney said Mateen asked Salman whether attacking the Disney site would have a bigger impact than attacking a nightclub.
In addition to accompanying her husband on scouting trips, Salman watched him leave their apartment with a gun and a backpack full of ammunition on the night of the shooting, Sweeney said.
Authorities say Salman initially said she didn’t know anything about the attack but later told investigators Mateen abused steroids, was “pumped up” on the night of the attack, and said “this is the one day” as he walked out the door, Sweeney said in court.
“I knew when he left he was going to commit the attack,” Sweeney said Salman told investigators.
Sweeney also said the couple ran up $25,000 in credit card debt and spent $5,000 in cash in the days before the shooting. Among the purchases was an $8,000 diamond ring for Salman. In addition, Mateen and Salman made her the death beneficiary of his bank account.
Salman’s attorney Charles Swift said outside court that Salman made those statements without a lawyer present during an 18-hour interrogation immediately after the attack.
He said he hasn’t yet received a transcript or recording of Salman’s interrogation to determine the context of her statements and accuracy of the allegations.
Swift also pointed out that Mateen was a security guard and left the couple’s home hundreds of times with a gun and ammunition.
Swift argued that prosecutors were charging Salman with the crimes of her husband. Mateen physically abused Salman, he said, and never told her about his plans to carry out the killings.
It was the first time Salman’s legal team heard details of the allegations as well.
“We frankly expected more,” attorney Linda Moreno said outside court.
Salman’s mother and uncle have pledged to put up their homes as collateral to secure her release from jail pending trial. Federal prosecutors are seeking to transfer Salman to Florida to face the charges that could bring a sentence of life in prison.