Orlando Massacre

Judge orders mental exam for wife of Orlando nightclub massacre gunman

Claudia Cowan reports from Oakland, California

 

A federal judge in California declined Wednesday to release the wife of the man who killed dozens of people at a Florida nightclub and ordered a psychiatric evaluation after prosecutors said she accompanied her husband on scouting trips for potential targets.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donna Ryu in Oakland said she wanted a psychiatric evaluation done of Noor Salman, 31, 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. Salmon has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Salman was arrested by federal authorities last month at her mother's home in suburban San Francisco, where she 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 in Orlando. Mateen pledged allegiance to several terror organizations, including ISIS, during the attack before police shot and killed him.

Related stories...

Federal prosecutor Sara Sweeney divulged some details of the allegations for the first time in court Wednesday while arguing against the release of Salman. Sweeney said Mateen asked Salman about "what would make more people upset an attack at downtown Disney, or at a club?"

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 told the court 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, told reporters outside the court that Salman made those statements without a lawyer present during an 18-hour interrogation immediately after the attack, and that he hasn't yet received a transcript or recording of the interrogation to determine the context of her statements and accuracy of the allegations.

Swift argued that prosecutors were charging Salman with the crimes of her husband. Mateen physically abused Salman, according to Swift, and never told her about his plans to carry out the killings. Her defense team told the court she was a special education student and couldn't concort a plan.

Swift pointed out that Mateen was a security guard and left the couple's home hundreds of times with a gun and ammunition. In addition, the defense claimed Mateen watched ISIS videos with his son, and was "bulked up" due to being on steroids at the time of the shooting.

It was the first time Salman's legal team heard details of the allegations. "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.

Fox News' Claudia Cowan, Mike Lundin and the Associated Press contributed to this report.