Jury to decide if Orlando gunman's widow had role in Pulse attack

ORLANDO, Fla., March 29 (Reuters) - Jurors in the trial of the woman whose husband killed dozens at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub in 2016 began a second day of deliberations on Thursday to decide whether she helped him plan the rampage and then misled authorities.

Noor Salman, 31, the widow of gunman Omar Mateen, could face up to life in prison if convicted of federal charges that she did nothing to stop her husband from killing 49 people at the Pulse nightclub.

Salman, the only person charged in connection with the attack, is accused of obstruction of justice and aiding Mateen in providing support to the Islamic State militant group. Mateen, who had claimed allegiance to an Islamic State leader, died in an exchange of gunfire with police at the nightclub.

Jurors, who began deliberating on Wednesday, asked the trial judge on Thursday to provide an example of an act of aiding and abetting. U.S. District Judge Paul Byron declined.

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In response to another question, Byron said in order for Salman's actions to be considered "willful," it had to be proven that she provided support for and participated in something she wished would succeed.

More on the Pulse nightclub shooting

Before the case went to the jury on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Orlando, defense lawyers said FBI interrogators had planted Salman's statements made during questioning that she helped him scout targets.

She also could not have known he would attack Pulse, a gay nightspot, on June 12, 2016, they said. The government said during its closing argument that Mateen originally planned to target the Disney Springs entertainment and shopping complex when he left home that night.

"Even Omar didn't know he was going to attack the Pulse nightclub," defense attorney Charles Swift said. "If he doesn't know, she can't know."

But prosecutors argued that Salman had helped her husband check out potential sites and sought to mislead investigators about what she knew.

They said she first told investigators that Mateen had acted without her knowledge but later admitted knowing he had left home with a gun and had watched jihadist videos online. (Reporting by Joey Roulette Writing by Ian Simpson Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Susan Thomas)