A New York policeman has been convicted of plotting to kidnap and cook women to dine on their "girl meat" in a macabre case that subjected jurors to grisly evidence.
The jury reached the verdict in the kidnapping conspiracy trial of Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old father with an admitted fetish for talking on the Internet about cannibalism.
Valle's lawyers at what was dubbed the "Cannibal Cop" trial chose not to hide what they called his "weird proclivities." But they insisted that he was just fantasizing and noted that none of the women were ever harmed.
Valle bowed his head and looked teary when the verdict was announced. He hugged his lawyer, Julia Gatto, who said later that she had been crying. He will be sentenced on June 19.
"It's a devastating verdict for us. We poured our hearts and souls into this," she said. 2The jury was unable to get past the thoughts,. Obviously, the case involved thoughts that were unusual and bizarre and frankly very ugly."
Valle's mother, Elizabeth, shook her head as the verdict was rendered. "I'm in shock and want to be left alone," she said after her son was led away. She said to herself as she sat on a court bench alone: "This is going to kill my mother."
The defence team said it would appeal. Defence lawyer Robert Baum said the verdict set a dangerous precedent. "People can be prosecuted for their thoughts and convicted," he said.
Prosecutors said that an analysis of Valle's computer found he was taking concrete steps to abduct his wife and at least five other women he knew. They said he looked up potential targets on a restricted law enforcement database, searched the Internet for how to knock someone out with chloroform, and showed up on the block of one woman after agreeing to kidnap her for 5,000 dollars for a New Jersey man, now awaiting trial.
Valle "left the world of fantasy and entered the world of reality," prosecutor Hadassa Waxman said during closing arguments. She said the officer's arrest near Halloween last year interrupted a ghoulish plan to "kidnap, torture, rape and commit other horrific acts on young women."
The jury, which deliberated for just over two days, heard Valle's potential victims say that they were trading innocent-sounding emails and texts with him, unaware he was supposedly scheming to make meals out of them. The government also sought to drive home the point that Valle was more of a threat because he was a police officer.