NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal jury ended deliberations Friday in the case of a suspended New York City police officer accused of plotting to kill and cannibalize women.
Jurors deliberated nearly the full day without reaching a verdict in the case of 28-year-old officer Gilberto Valle. They were to return to court on Monday.
Valle has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping conspiracy and to using a national database to learn personal information about potential targets.
He allegedly created a computer catalog with records of at least 100 women with their names, addresses and photos, according to the criminal complaint.
If convicted, Valle could face life in prison.
In notes to the judge on Friday, the jury asked for transcripts of the testimony of some of the women Valle allegedly targeted and of an FBI agent who arrested him. Jurors also sought guidance on the elements of the kidnapping conspiracy charge.
Before jurors received the case, defense attorney Julia Gatto said Valle’s chats on fetish websites about abducting, torturing and eating at least six women, including his wife, “are no more real than an alien invasion.”
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman said evidence showed Valle “left the world of fantasy and entered the world of reality.” The officer’s actions were “no joke,” she added. “It was not just sick entertainment.”
In a rebuttal argument given before the jury was to get the case, prosecutor Randall Jackson called Valle “a sexually sadistic individual.”
The arguments capped a two-week trial in federal court. During the presentation of evidence, jurors sometimes appeared squeamish when shown sadistic images from Internet sites visited by Valle.
The officer openly wept over his wife’s testimony describing how she uncovered his late-night computer activity, fled their home with their infant child and contacted the FBI.
The prosecutor argued that the officer took concrete steps to further the plot — looking up potential targets on a restricted law enforcement database, searching the Internet for how to knock someone out with chloroform and showing up on the block of one woman after agreeing to kidnap her for $5,000.
At trial, the jury heard the testimony of women who knew Valle and were trading innocent-sounding emails and texts with him at the same time prosecutors said he was 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.
The defense claimed Valle was being prosecuted for indulging in offensive, but harmless, fantasies fed by visits to websites meant solely for role play.
Gatto started her closing by reading from a 2012 Valle email saying, “I just have a world in my mind and in that world I am kidnapping women and selling them to people interested in buying them.”
The attorney called her client’s obsession with cannibalism a “stupid, infantile” habit that destroyed his life, but not proof of a conspiracy with three others he never met in person.
The defendant, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie, again cried as his lawyer described how the case had “cost him everything,”
including his wife and “adorable baby.”
A New Jersey man charged with scheming with Valle to kidnap, rape and murder a Manhattan woman is awaiting trial.
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