NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Ahead of the start of the trial in the so-called cannibal cop case, federal Judge Paul Gardephe made several rulings in court on Thursday. And in almost every instance, he ruled for the defense.
Gardephe had to be sure he could find jurors who would not be too squeamish about viewing lurid images or mutilation, murder and cannibalism in seating the jury for the trial of Gilberto Valle, 28, WCBS 880′s Irene Cornell reported.
But the judge has drawn the line at some of the evidence prosecutors sought to include in their case against Gilberto Valle that would be “likely to sicken and disgust the jury.”
Among the documents rejected as evidence were Internet chats about violence against children. Gardephe also ruled out the use of video images of the ritual slaughter of a wild goat and comments by a co-conspirator who said he watched the video to practice his slaughter techniques.
“I doubt whether anyone on the jury could stand to watch that video,” said Gardephe.
A key witness in defense of Valle will be allowed to testify from Moscow via closed-circuit television, the judge ruled on Thursday.
The judge said the Russian man is an important witness for the defense in its effort to prove that Valle’s Internet chats about kidnapping, cooking and eating women were pure fantasy.
The Russian man is expected to testify that he created a fetish website to allow people to explore their sexual fantasies, Cornell reported.
The government maintains that Valle’s use of pictures from Facebook shows that he intended to carry out the plot he discussed online, Cornell reported.
In one ruling, the judge said an FBI agent cannot testify about cellphone data unless the government can show he used reliable methods to produce his facts. The government has said it will use cellphone data to prove the officer was doing surveillance on potential kidnap victims near a school.
But Valle’s attorney Julia Gatto is pretrial hearings earlier this week said the cellphone data is from a Saturday when the school was not in session.
Valle is accused of maintaining a database of more than 100 possible victims to kidnap, cook and eat. No women were actually harmed.
Valle is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
He is also charged with one count of intentionally and knowingly accessing a computer without authorization and exceeding his authorized access for allegedly using police computers to locate potential victims, officials said.
Opening statements are scheduled for Feb. 25.
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