NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The defense lawyer for the former NYPD officer accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women claimed in court Monday that prosecutors are panicking as their case against Gilberto Valle crumbles.
Attorney Julia Gatto argued that the judge in the case should suppress new evidence offered by government prosecutors against her client, the so-called cannibal cop.
“Now they’re really just throwing darts in the air,” she said.
The government says it has proof from a cellphone tower that Valle was near a Queens high school where one of eight intended victims was a student. It claims he was conducting surveillance there last May.
Gatto told a federal judge presiding over jury selection that the cellphone data was from a Saturday.
She added that Valle graduated from the same high school.
Gatto called cellphone data “the foundation of their case and it’s crumbling and they’re panicking.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jackson Randall Jackson scoffed at Gatto’s claim.
“This is not the foundation of our case,” he said. Instead, he added, the bulk of the crucial evidence consists of communications between Valle and co-conspirators on the Internet along with inferences that can be made that he engaged in surveillance of intended victims from data that includes cellphone signal hits near where they worked, lived or, in the latest instance, went to school.
The judge did not ban the new evidence from use at the trial, though he said he was dismayed that it was being introduced just as the trial was beginning, leaving the defense little time to investigate and refute the claims. Opening statements are scheduled for Feb. 25.
Valle, 28, was arrested and charged in October for allegedly plotting to kidnap as many as 100 women.
Authorities said Valle improperly accessed a police database to track potential victims and was forced to resign from the NYPD.
Investigators said his meticulous plan included the intentional torture of his victims.
One document FBI investigators found on Valle’s computer is titled: “Abducting and Cooking (Victim #1): A Blueprint.” Specific information about that victim including her bra size is detailed, as are the plans for the car he would use to kidnap her, the chloroform used to subdue, and the rope to tie her up.
Valle talked about his plot in an online chat:
“How big is your oven?” a co-conspirator asks.
“Big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs….The abduction will have to be flawless…I know all of them…as for Victim #1, I can just show up at her home unannounced. It will not alert her, and I can knock her out, wait until dark, and kidnap her right out of her home,” Valle responded.
Valle’s alleged barbaric plot involved months of scheming with at least two co-conspirators online to abduct women, kill them, and eat their cooked remains, the FBI said.
But Valle’s defense has argued that the plot was an online fantasy and that Valle had no intention to act on the plan.
No women were actually harmed.
A New Jersey man charged in the case will be tried separately.
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