NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal prosecutors have rested their case against the city’s so-called ‘cannibal cop.’
With the final witness came the most vivid images of what prosecutors say former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle may have had in mind for certain targets.
For the first time, the jury inside the federal courthouse saw graphic pictures and video as they finished hearing evidence in the cannibalism case against Valle.
Jurors appeared uncomfortable Monday as prosecutors showed a video of a screaming woman made to appear as if she were being cooked alive over an open flame and other disturbing images from websites devoted to torturing and eating women – evidence prosecutors say proves Valle was involved in a cannibalism plot.
Valle frequently visited websites showing women in various stages of forced duress, including one that offered images of women who did not survive, FBI computer forensics examiner Stephen Flatly testified at Valle’s kidnapping conspiracy trial.
Flatly testified on Monday morning about what police officer Gilberto Valle was searching for on his computer, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.
The topics Valle looked up included ‘death fetish forum,’ ‘what to look for in human meat,’ ‘cannibalism in the news,’ ‘best rope to tie someone up’ and ‘doesn’t she look good enough to eat.’
The FBI analysis of Valle’s laptop yielded a video of a naked woman hanging over an open flame and screaming in agony. There also were several photos of women with bright red apples stuffed in their mouths.
Another image of a woman roasting on a giant spit was discovered in a computer file that Valle kept on a former college friend – Kimberly Sauer – that prosecutors have identified as a target of the alleged plot to kidnap, torture and eat women.
Asked to describe some of the photos found on Valle’s computer, Flatly testified that they showed various women, “Some are dead. — A couple of them appeared to have been strangled.”
Flatly testified that he estimated there were a half a million graphic images on Valle’s computer.
As Flatly described the images that were displayed on video monitors in federal court in Manhattan, some jurors put their hands over their mouths. One shook her head. Another wiped his brow.
Also admitted was evidence Valle looked up articles written about the rape and murder of a young woman and others about a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in California.
But earlier Monday, the judge barred some images from being shown to the jury that he considered too prejudicial and too inflammatory.
As part of their case in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors had wanted to present up to 34 exhibits of ghastly images, including ones depicting women being tortured, dead bodies and body parts. The photos were found during an FBI analysis of Valle’s computer.
“What we don’t have is proof that he ever saw the images here,” U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said at the start of the second week of Valle’s kidnapping conspiracy trial.
The judge described the excluded pictures as “what appeared to be murdered and mutilated women in scenes related to cannibalism.”
The photos included a picture of a dead body with the feet cut off — an image Valle’s wife testified she saw when she went to one of his favorite sites and discovered why he stayed up late online. The defense had argued that the images may have been saved automatically without him ever seeing them.
As CBS 2’s Sean Hennessey reported, Valle’s lawyers suggested the city cop conducted his sadistic searches to help sell the story to his online cohorts that he was a cannibal just like they were.
Valle, 28, has been held without bail since his October arrest. Throughout the trial, which began last week, his lawyers have attacked government evidence as nothing more than the reflection of a man engaging in extreme sexual fantasies with like-minded people around the world. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and that no women were harmed.
In testimony on Monday, defense lawyers hammered home their case that Valle’s online chats were all talk.
FBI Agent Anthony Foto: “He claimed that he would not have gone through with it.”
Defense Lawyer: “In fact, Mr. Valle told you he would never hurt anyone, isn’t that right?”
FBI Agent Anthony Foto: “That’s correct.”
Jurors have heard testimony from Valle’s estranged wife and from former classmates and other women who said they knew Valle on a casual basis and never considered him dangerous. Their testimony was followed by evidence that all of them were the subjects of emails and chats describing how they could be snatched away and eaten.
The defense begins its case on Tuesday and has a list of only a handful of witnesses. They won’t say if Valle will take the stand in his own defense.
Do you think jurors should be allowed to see the images? Let us know below.
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