About an hour after Omar Mateen left home, preparing for what became the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, his wife, Noor Salman, sent him a text.
It suggested what he should say if his mother invited him over to observe Ramadan, the Muslim holiday of fasting and prayer. Prosecutors say it was intended as a cover story, in case someone found out what he planned to do. Her lawyers say it was an innocent message.
Did Salman know what Mateen was up to when he left their house in Fort Pierce, Florida, around 5 p.m. on June 11, 2016?
About nine hours later, around 2 a.m., Mateen opened fire at the nightclub, leaving 49 people dead and 53 injured.
Now, the central questions in Salman’s trial are whether she knew or helped her husband plan the attack.
Lawyers were due to deliver their opening statements on Wednesday in the only criminal case to stem from one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history. Mateen was killed at the scene when Orlando police broke through a nightclub wall and shot him.
Prosecutors will tell a federal court jury in Orlando that she knew her husband was heavily armed when he left the house in a rented van and, as she later told the FBI, “that he was going to do something bad.”
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SOURCE: NBC News, Pete Williams