Aging Florida sewage systems pose threat to health — and tourism, real estate

Many Florida utilities rely on aging sewage systems that have not been upgraded in some cases since the 1950s. Florida’s fragile ecosystems and economies should not be threatened by the inevitable spills and breakdowns that occur in these systems. Florida should to take a comprehensive and a forward-looking approach to upgrading Florida’s domestic wastewater infrastructures.

Few of Florida’s systems have the capacity to handle existing responsibilities much less address Florida’s rapid population growth and development. Obviously, dumping raw sewage into vulnerable ecosystems such as the Indian River Lagoon or Tampa Bay is not the answer, nor is passing off nutrient-laden, partially treated sewage as irrigation water. Perhaps must unacceptable is the way Miami/Dade and Broward counties dump partially treated sewage offshore via discharge pipes onto dying coral reefs. Instead, wastewater should be viewed as a resource that, with reasonable investments, can be cleansed sufficiently and reused responsibly. We have the technologies and the means to implement them.

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In order to protect and improve Florida waters, and to ensure adequate water supplies in a rapidly growing state, we must look beyond the costs to individual municipalities and their utilities and consider the threats that Florida’s aging sewage systems now pose to the integrity of our tourism- and real estate-based economies. Florida’s water woes have made national headlines. It’s going to take years to clean up our beaches, waters and fisheries, as well as our reputation as a great place to live and visit. Floridians are well aware of the causes of these crises, and are rightfully outraged.

Citizens groups are pushing for sewage fixes around the state, because nutrient pollution from septic tanks and stormwater runoff are problems. That’s something our team realized as we researched our award-winning documentary, St Pete Unfiltered. St Petersburg’s sewage treatment system failures, which cause millions of gallons of raw sewage spills annually, are problems shared by many Florida wastewater agencies. Our city failed to address — even covered up — the weaknesses of our sewage infrastructure and its regular enormous spills. I sincerely hope that elected officials in other Florida cities and counties will spare their citizens the pitched battles we’ve endured against the officials we mistakenly trusted with our health, natural resources and economy. As Floridians, we need to admit our problems and work together toward the ways and means to remedy them.

Sure, modernizing sewage treatment is expensive, but ask St. Pete if hiding from the issue actually saves money. On Oct. 4, after a protracted battle against its own residents to evade its sewage treatment responsibilities, the city of St. Petersburg finally surrendered to court-ordered state and federal oversight.

The settlement places the city’s public works under the watch of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and federal Judge Anthony E. Porcelli of the 11th Circuit Middle District Tampa. Meanwhile, even as St Pete enters this agreement, area beaches are still closing due to high human fecal bacteria counts. According to many scientists, nutrients from sewage pollution can fuel the harmful algal blooms presently damaging both coasts. Under court supervision, the city must make upgrades on existing infrastructure, increase treatment capacity, and meet deadlines on the prescribed timeline — hopefully before St. Pete loses its stature as a world-class place to live and visit.

The city jeopardized our local tourism-based economy by wasting three years spending millions of dollars litigating against a five-year project that will amount to over $300 million in infrastructure fixes. The city endangered our economy knowing full well that there are affordable ways to finance new domestic wastewater infrastructures, including advanced treatment options that allow municipalities to clean and recycle the world’s most precious substance: water. Wisely, Article 7 of Florida’s Constitution explicitly authorizes local governments and the state to issue bonds for capital improvements, including wastewater management.

It is time for state and local elected officials to develop comprehensive wastewater treatment strategies that implement the highest standards of treatment possible. If you don’t, the people will hold you accountable, as we did in St. Pete.

Dr. Brandon D. Shuler is a courtesy assistant professor of environmental science and Policy at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg; a prolific author; and the producer of St. Pete Unfiltered. The documentary has aired at numerous civic gathering and film festivals, winning the 2018 Gasparilla Film Festival award for Best Florida Production.

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As Hurricane Michael Nears, Gov. Will Still Join Trump In Orlando

TALLAHASEE, FL — The unexpected arrival of Michael as a tropical storm on Sunday prompted Florida Gov. Rick Scott to suspend his U.S. Senate campaign. Scott, a Republican, is running against longtime Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.

As of noon, however, Scott was still scheduled to join President Donald Trump at the International Association of Chiefs of Police at the Orange County Convention Center.

According to the White House, Trump is scheduled to arrive at Orlando International Airport at about 12:40 p.m. His motorcade will reach the convention center at 1:05 p.m. and his remarks to the convention are planned for 1:35 p.m.

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"As the largest gathering of police leaders, the president will speak about the work of the administration to protect American communities by restoring law and order, supporting local law enforcement, and securing the border," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Monday morning, Scott met with emergency management professionals in Bay County before heading to Orlando He plans to head to Pasco County this afternoon to give another hurricane briefing.

Tropical Storm Michael, which formed in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, now has sustained winds of 70 miles per hour with reports of guests as high as 75 mph. It is moving north toward the Gulf Coast at 7 mph.

Image via NHC

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What To Look For In Apartments Orlando

Renting apartments in Orlando isn’t always a straightforward task as there are quite a few aspects of renting that you will need to take into consideration. Since you’re going to be signing a lease, it’s important that you’re sure about an apartment before signing on the dotted line. You couldn’t possible prepare for everything your apartment hunting may throw your way, but we shall give you some ideas on what to look for. Young adults are especially finding it hard to put roots down when they feel lost searching for their first dwellings.

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Homeless commission unveils campaign to keep spotlight on need in Central Florida

This LYNX bus wrap is part of a new awareness campaign by the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. (Matt Good /

As Central Florida leaders celebrate what they see as “incredible success” in housing homeless people with mental and physical disabilities, they worry the issue has slipped from the public’s radar — threatening future progress.

“There’s a concern that people feel like, ‘Oh, we already took care of that,’” said the Rev. David Swanson, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando and chairman of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, which launched a marketing campaign on Wednesday to correct that notion. “That’s why we want to alert people that we need them to invest with us in this effort.”

He and community leaders unveiled part of their new campaign at the LYNX Central Station in downtown Orlando: a full-sized bus wrap showing a park bench transitioning into a living room sofa. The mobile message was donated by the transit company at a value of $60,000 in advertising for the coming year.

The bus immediately caught the eye of one believer — 44-year-old Chris Sweeney, a formerly homeless man who happened to be at the transit depot Wednesday during the campaign kickoff. Sweeney, who is on disability for a back injury, spent four years on the streets with his wife, Tiffany Anderson. The two were among the first 129 homeless people housed. They moved into a small apartment last October.

“Being homeless, you can get robbed, raped, murdered,” Sweeney said. “It brings out the bad in everybody. Now we take showers. We can actually fix meals — hot meals. We can lock the door.”

A report last week on the region’s progress in combating homelessness over the past four years noted the commission will need to raise $30 million in the next three years, including $6 million from community donors, to continue the progress.

“It really is an investment,” Swanson said. “Housing [chronically homeless individuals] has led to a 60 percent reduction in emergency room visits, 85 percent reduction in visits to the jail, and 97 percent are still housed [at least a year later]. So you’re seeing incredible success there, and the cost went from $31,000 to have them on the street down to $18,000 to house them and give them the services they need.”

The reduction is calculated from hospital and criminal-justice costs.

Shelley Lauten, the homeless commission’s CEO, said the new campaign will run up to $45,000 for the first four months and will include billboards, paid social media, print advertising and possibly radio. An additional $100,000 of in-kind contributions — including the bus wrap — already has been pledged.

“When we looked at the first 100 most severe cases of the chronically homeless, the average time on our streets in our community was seven to eight years,” Lauten said. “So the people we’re talking about really are our neighbors.”, 407-420-5503, @katesantich. Please consider supporting local journalism by purchasing a digital subscription to the Orlando Sentinel.

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Orlando housing market heats as home prices outpace wages

Orlando housing market heats as home prices outpace wages

Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Orlando Sentinel

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ With Orlando home prices rising six times faster than wages in the last year, competition has revved up for condos and townhouses, a new report shows.

The smaller, more affordable residential options represented just 12 percent of the 3,508 home sales in an area of mostly Orange and Seminole counties last month. But prices of those units rose at more than triple the rate of single-family houses during the last year, according to a new report by Orlando Regional Realtor Association.

“What we have essentially done is come full circle with rent versus purchase, and right now, the pendulum has swung to purchase,” said Thomas Allen, broker with Urbanista, which specializes in downtown Orlando residential.

He said condo and townhouse prices have spiked to the point where developers will likely look at building another condominium tower in downtown at some point during the next two years as average sales prices continue increasing above $300 a square foot. It’s been about a decade since the urban core saw a new condo tower, he added.

The mid-point price for a single-family home in the core Orlando market during March was $249,900, which was up 6 percent from a year earlier. Prices for condominiums and townhouses were about half that amount and increased more than 19 percent during that time.

Stress on buyers continues to mount in Central Florida with midpoint wages of $58,406 remaining roughly flat for the previous yearlong period, while home prices have grown about 6 percent. Interest rates remained flat from a year earlier and edged down slightly to 4.29 percent in March from February.

In addition, the supply of listings has shrunk to near-record levels of 2.2 months, which is down from a year and a month earlier.

From a month earlier, the overall median price for all types of Orlando-area housing in March was largely flat at $230,000 despite the downturn in supply. Sales were also relatively flat from February.

“Orlando’s housing market continues to be tugged by opposing factors, such as low inventory and high demand,” said association president Lou Nimkoff, of Brio Real Estate Services. “The result is a wash for sales.”

Of the four counties in the Metro Orlando area, only Osceola showed an increase in year-over-year sales with 5.9 percent growth. Lake County sales declined 4.4 percent; Seminole County was down 3.7 percent; and Orange County sales slipped 2.9 percent from a year ago.

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Orlando, FL, USA for Use These Packing and Planning Tips to Maximize Your Fun at Orlando’s Water Parks

Orlando, FL, USA for Use These Packing and Planning Tips to Maximize Your Fun at Orlando’s Water Parks

–Good weather reigns year-round in Orlando, Florida, but summertime is the best season to splash around in the many epic water parks around town. From enormous water slides to incredibly relaxing lazy rivers, you can test the waters of a different park each day for a week and still not get through them all! Orlando during the summer is non-stop fun, and we want to help you make the most of your vacation. To ensure you have the maximum amount of vacation fun without any stress, we’ve compiled a quick water park packing and planning list for you.

Orlando Water Park Packing Tips

Whether you’re heading to the water park at your resort, such as Surfari at The Grove, or to Blizzard Beach in Walt Disney World, many of the items you will, or won’t, need remain the same.

Don’t Forget to Bring:

-Water-friendly shoes
-A few bathing suits – You don’t need to bring multiple bathing suits to the park, but as far as packing goes, it’s good to have a few to cycle through, depending on how long your stay will be

You don’t need to bring towels with you, all of the water parks will have them for use.

We also recommend bringing:

-Favorite floating devices – the Zero Entry Pool at The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando, for example, allows outside floaties, the water parks at Walt Disney World, though, do not
-Book or e-reader, if you intend to lounge
-GoPro or another water-resistant camera
-Waterproof container for your phones and other electronic devices that you may use while at the park

Orlando Water Park Planning Tips

Now that you have a general idea of what to pack for the water park portion of your Orlando vacation, let’s dive into some general planning tips.

For starters, it’s smart to assess, ahead of time, which water parks will suit your needs. If you’re going to be vacationing with kids who enjoy thrill rides, then be sure to spend at least one day at Blizzard Beach, where thrill rides are plentiful. On the other hand, if you have more a mixed group of big and little kids, then opt for Typhoon Lagoon, where there’s a variety of rides and activities for all ages.

If you prefer to have access to an on-site water park, then choose a resort that has a water park with everything you desire. Surfari Water Park at The Grove Resort & Spa Orlando is one of the newest, and one of the only water parks to feature FlowRider, a double surf simulation ride.

Even though the water parks feature complimentary chairs, they all tend to be taken by the afternoon, along with the shaded spots, since the parks are so popular during the summer months. To ensure your group has a spot to gather, eat, and relax, get to the park early. Another idea is to rent a cabana.

Though this option is pricier, it means your entire group will have a comfortable spot to lounge in throughout the day.

We mentioned packing sunscreen, but our planning tips for the sun expand beyond that. Not only do we recommend planning to apply and reapply sunscreen throughout the day, but try to find shade as often as possible. The sun is extremely powerful, so it’s important to get in the shade as often as possible.

Arrive early and/or stay late. If you and your crew don’t mind starting your days early, you can plan to arrive as soon as the parks open, when there are fewer people. The same concept applies to the hour before closing.

Pack lite for parks outside of your resort. The water parks at Walt Disney World offer lockers for use, but space is limited within the locker. Outside of what we mentioned on the packing list above, we recommend keeping any non-essentials to a minimum, so you’ll have less to keep track of.

Visit a variety of water parks. There are so many incredible water parks to enjoy in Orlando; we recommend visiting a few different ones. Enjoy your resort water park, head to Blizzard Beach in Walt Disney World, or try out Aquatica at SeaWorld.

Last, but not least, stay hydrated! Without a doubt, you’ll be taking in a lot of sun, and drinking plenty of water throughout the day will ensure you enjoy yourself all day, and vacation, long. Being in the water will cool you off on the outside, drinking water will ensure your insides stay cool and happy!

You’re all set. You know the packing essentials, we’ve shared our best planning tips, and all that’s left is for you to enjoy! Don’t sweat the small stuff, even if you forget something, you’ll be able to purchase it in Orlando. Even if you aren’t able to get to the park first thing, or the chairs are taken at first, it will all work out, and the fun will still be had, regardless! Splash, lounge, shout with joy, whichever rides you choose, we know it’ll be a trip to remember.

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100 clean up Orlando apartments for ex-homeless

100 clean up Orlando apartments for ex-homeless


ORLANDO, Fla. — About a hundred people gave up their Saturday to help spruce up a home for the homeless in Orlando.

100 turn out to help paint apartments for ex-homeless Pathlight Home manages 2 apartment complexes

Volunteers grabbed a brush and put a new coat of paint on a housing complex for the homeless at the corner of Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway.

Pathlight Home has two complexes, providing a home for 600 formerly-homeless men and women.

"It makes me feel more at home, because there’s so many people that care about us and come over and volunteer for us, and this is just one of their better efforts," Maxwell Terrace resident Alan Culver said.

Over the past 25 years, Pathlight Home has helped provide a home for more than 5,000 homeless people.

About 100 people volunteered their time Saturday to clean up an apartment complex in Orlando that houses formerly homeless people. (Vincent Earley, staff)
About 100 people volunteered their time Saturday to clean up an apartment complex in Orlando that houses formerly homeless people. (Vincent Earley, staff)

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8,000 inquire about 201 apartments as Central Florida officials seek affordable housing options

Orlando’s Pendana at West Lakes mixed-income apartments have debuted with 8,000 prospective tenants inquiring about 201 units, some of which rent for less than half of the going market rate.

The number of applicants for the new development near Camping World Stadium underscores Orlando’s ranking as one of the country’s toughest housing markets for the lowest-income renters, reported the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Metro Orlando’s gap between wages and housing costs hurt the region’s attractiveness as a place to live, according to a new report by U.S. News & World Report that ranked Metro Orlando 78th.

“I hope and pray people see the demand,” said Orlando renter Anita Mouton, who added that she is on a waiting list, hoping Pendana units will open later in the year. “What are they waiting on to create more of these? You need these in this community. This is a low-budget city.”

In search of housing solutions, more than 100 Central Florida officials and housing executives last week finalized a series of regional housing workshops organized by Orange County. Upcoming recommendations are likely to include adding new home-construction taxes, expanding the types of housing allowed in neighborhoods, carving out land trusts to lower costs and requiring some affordable residences in typical communities.

Developers and builders have objected to driving up costs but the various housing groups all agree that Florida lawmakers should stop raiding state funds earmarked for affordable housing. Last month, the Legislature bucked its own task-force recommendations by diverting $185 million from housing trust funds to spend on school safety. That left just $109 million behind for down-payment programs, rental assistance, senior housing aid and other programs. It was the 11th consecutive year legislators dipped into housing funds to pay for other needs.

“Florida is one of the few states with the set-aside to fund affordable housing and the Legislature is choosing to funnel it to other places. …” said Sandy Hostetter, Central Florida president of Valley National Bank. The lender helped finance the $40 million Pendana project.

Legislation to protect the housing funds died in an appropriations committee that included Sen. Kelli Stargel, a Republican representing parts of south Lake County. She did not respond to phone calls.

At Pendana on a recent weekday morning, applicants lined up outside the door to the leasing office. The private-public partnership is able to offer below-market rents there because the nonprofit Lift Orlando group leveraged donated land, tax credits and other tools. Some units are rented out based on the tenants’ income — as little as 30 percent of residents’ income on select units. Other units are priced starting at $593 a month and market-rate units start at $850.

But creating another Pendana has become less likely because state and federal spending isn’t prioritizing it, Hostetter said.

The problem is particularly acute in Osceola County, which has sought solutions to house its growing population of working-class residents. Possibly thousands of residents pay about $1,200 a month to live in old hotels along U.S. Highway 192, said Susan Caswell, assistant community development administrator for Osceola, and lack the deposits and other upfront fees for better housing.

To push affordable living, the county has expedited building permits, partnered on down-payment assistance programs and allowed deferral or subsidies of impact fees. Unlike some other counties, it also embraces renters living in garage apartments. Caswell said Osceola may soon consider charging impact fees based on the size of a house rather than the number of bedrooms in an effort to encourage smaller houses.

Builders are constructing three- and four-bedroom houses when smaller and more affordable homes are needed the most in a county with average wages of $33,000, she said.

“We have made production easier, quicker and less expensive, but our fundamental issue is that our builders are building a type of housing that does not meet a need,” Caswell added.

But production home builders say they are delivering what the market demands with an eye to making a profit.

“We serve the market. We don’t control it,” said Alex Martin, division president for Mattamy Homes. “I build what I’m told. I serve the regulators and the buyers.”

Atlantic Housing Partners Principal Scott Culp said Osceola’s recent hike in residential construction taxes called impact fees has forced his company to question whether it can afford to build there. Local governments should instead call for a portion of housing to be affordably priced in new neighborhoods such as Lake Nona the way Orlando required it for Creative Village just west of downtown, he said.

Funds “would go much further and you need to require it everywhere,” he said.

One of the state’s leading advocates for affordable housing, Florida Housing Coalition President Jaimie Ross said local governments might need to guard against losing existing affordable complexes. Developers of those projects had to offer reduced rents — for a limited time — in exchange for getting up-front construction funds through the sale of federal tax credits. She warned that new political pressures from developers to further limit the time those projects must offer lower rents have mounted.

“We need to make sure we don’t lose the housing we have created,” she said. or 407-420-5538

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Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Millennials a surging part of U.S. real estate market, but not in Florida

Adults under the age of 35 are beginning to buy homes at an increasing clip but Florida is struggling to attract younger homeowners. Florida cities are not in the top 50 for popularity with millennials. In fact, cities in the Sunshine State made up half of the least popular cities for millennial homebuyers. More from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, WBBH, and KiiiTV.

Possible Indian burial grounds could delay million-dollar homes in Central Florida

In a region where cul de sacs have quickly replaced crops over the last half century, documented encounters between development and Native American archaeological sites remain somewhat rare. Central Florida had 12 cases of prehistoric Native American human remains being found during the past two years — about a fifth of cases statewide during that time, state officials say. [Source: Orlando Sentinel]

A boom in residential real estate, for some

On the surface, the annual ranking of the country’s top brokerage firms shows “significant growth” in residential sales volume — a “boom year,” RISMedia states in the 30th edition of the real estate information company’s Top 500 Power Broker Survey. But underlying the sales volume is a troubling indicator of the overall market and the growing dearth of affordable housing. [Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune]

Florida property tax rates in middle of pack nationally

Property tax rates on single-family homes in 2017 ranged from a high of 2.28 percent in New Jersey to a low of 0.34 percent in Hawaii. Florida was in the middle of the pack at 1.09 percent. Alachua, St. Lucie and Palm Beach Counties had the three highest rates among Florida counties. [Source: Palm Beach Post]

How would Florida’s proposed daylight savings bill impact real estate?

On March 23, Gov. Rick Scott of Florida signed a bill to keep the state on daylight savings time year-round. Extending daylight savings time permanently could have a profound impact on when Florida real estate agents can show properties. More from Inman and WFG.

Cost per night for a 12-day stay at a proposed low Earth orbit hotel being developed by startup Orion Span. Read more from the Real Deal and Florida Today.


› Central Florida neighborhoods where home values are surging [Orlando Business Journal]
Home values grew solidly across Central Florida in 2017, but they really skyrocketed in some of Orlando’s outlying neighborhoods. Data from the Orlando Regional Realtor Association broke down single-family home sales in 2017 by ZIP code.

› On Top of the World plans detail mega non-retiree community [Ocala Star-Banner]
Kenneth Colen hopes to open the On Top of the World lifestyle to working families with the company’s planned debut of a community not restricted to those age 55 and older. The Marion County Planning and Zoning Commission last week recommended approval of a plan that would bring more than 2,500 homes to a 467-acre section of pasture land

› Real estate Ponzi schemer, Alfano La Cava, pleads guilty [Orlando Sentinel]
A real estate broker who ran a $5 million Ponzi scheme in the Orlando area based on fake real estate has pleaded guilty. But attorneys representing victims in civil lawsuits in Orlando said the scheme dated back years and included at least 100 victims and $40 million.

› Berkshire Hathaway Florida acquires South Miami firm [The Real Deal]
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty is expanding its reach in Miami-Dade. The brokerage, a subsidiary of Lennar Corp., just closed on the acquisition of Foster & Clark Real Estate, adding 24 agents to the company.

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Widow of Orlando nightclub shooter acquitted on all charges in 2016 attack

Widow of Orlando nightclub shooter acquitted on all charges in 2016 attack


The widow of the gunman who killed 49 people at a gay Orlando nightclub was acquitted Friday on charges of lying to the FBI and helping her husband in the 2016 attack.

Noor Salman, 31, began sobbing with joy when she was found not guilty of charges of obstruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization, WKMG reported.

Salman was married to Omar Mateen when he attacked the Pulse nightclub. Police killed him after the massacre.

Prosecutors said Salman and her husband scouted out potential targets together – including Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex – and she knew he was buying ammunition for his AR-15 in preparation for a jihadi attack.

She knew that he had a sick fascination with violent jihadi videos and an affinity for Islamic State group websites and gave him a "green light to commit terrorism," prosecutors said.

Sheriff Demings has issued a response to the Noor Salman trial and verdict:

— OCSO FL News (@OrangeCoSheriff) March 30, 2018

Defense attorneys described Salman as an easily manipulated woman with a low IQ. They said Salman, who was born in California to Palestinian parents, was abused by her husband, who cheated on her with other women and concealed much of his life from her.

Attorney Charles Swift argued there was no way Salman knew that Mateen would attack the Pulse nightclub because even he didn’t know he would attack it until moments before the shooting. His intended target was the Disney Springs complex, prosecutors said.

"It’s a horrible, random, senseless killing by a monster," Swift said during closing arguments. "But it wasn’t preplanned. The importance to this case is that if he didn’t know, she couldn’t know."

Salman’s statement to the FBI in the hours after the attack appeared to play a key role in the case. In the statement, Salman said over "the last two years, Omar talked to me about jihad."

She claimed her husband didn’t use the internet in their home, but he did, prosecutors said. She told investigators that Mateen had deactivated his Facebook account in 2013, but they found that he had an account up until the month of the shooting – and was friends with his wife. She said her husband only had one gun when he had three, and that he wasn’t radicalized, they said.

Mateen had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group before he was killed.

Salman also advised Mateen to lie to his mother when she inquired about his whereabouts on the night of the shooting, prosecutors said.

Defense attorneys said the FBI coerced Salman’s statement and she signed it because she was tired after extensive questioning and feared losing her young son. They fought to have it thrown out.

Jurors asked to review the statement more closely a couple of hours into their deliberations and the judge obliged, printing off copies for them.

During the trial, prosecutors said Mateen, who was born in New York to Afghan immigrants, intended to attack Disney World’s shopping and entertainment complex by hiding a gun in a stroller but became spooked by police and instead chose the gay club as his target.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Sweeney showed surveillance video of the Disney Springs complex that captured Mateen walking near the House of Blues club in the hours before the Pulse attack. In it, he looks behind him at police officers standing nearby before deciding to leave.

"He had to choose a new target," she said.

Salman’s attorney took the jury through the hours of her life before the attack. She called a friend and her uncle in California, saying that she was coming to visit and that Mateen would be joining them.

She talked with her in-laws, ate at Applebee’s and texted Mateen. He didn’t respond. She later went on Facebook, read a book and then texted Mateen again.

"You know you work tomorrow," she wrote.

He responded: "You know what happened?"

She wrote, "What happened?"

Then he sent his last text: "I love you, babe."

Salman did not testify in her defense.

SEE ALSO: Victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando

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