A former New York Police Department officer was released from jail on Tuesday after a judge overturned his conviction in a bizarre case accusing him of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat young women.
The verdicts in Christopher Asch and Michael Van Hise’s conspiracy trial came a year after a conviction in a headline-grabbing case of a police officer accused of plotting abductions and cannibalism.
Prosecutors say retired Stuyvesant High School librarian Christopher Asch and auto mechanic Michael Van Hise aimed to turn disturbing ideas into deadly action.
“Thousands if not millions of people have bizarre sexual fantasies,” attorney Brian Waller told the Manhattan federal court jury in defense of his client, 61-year-old Robert Christopher Asch. “Chris Asch is one of those people.”
Multiple NYPD officers have been charged with corruption in recent years, on allegations that they misused the FBI-operated National Crime Information Center to snoop on other officers, or even to get information on people they might rob.
Defendants Michael Vanhise, Robert Christopher Asch and Richard Meltz will go to trial together. The trial is scheduled to begin in November.
The charges against Robert Christopher Asch and Richard Meltz are contained in court papers. The men are expected to make appearances Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Federal Judge Paul Gardephe scheduled a Nov. 4 trial for Michael Vanhise during a hearing Thursday.
An internal order made public on Thursday advises members of the nation’s largest police department to “demonstrate professionalism” when using Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
The jury has had the case since Thursday. If convicted on the most serious charge, Gilberto Valle could face a possible life sentence.
The defendant, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie, wept as his lawyer described how the case had “cost him everything,” including his wife and “adorable baby.”
Defense attorneys began Tuesday with the showing of a videotaped deposition of a Russian man who runs a fetish website.
The jury at the trial of a New York City police officer accused of plotting to kill women and eat their body parts won’t be shown gruesome photos from websites he visited but will see evidence of Internet searches on subjects like “how to cook a human,” a judge ruled on Monday.
Agent Anthony Foto told jurors at the trial of Officer Gilberto Valle on a kidnapping conspiracy charge that Valle claimed after his October arrest that he did not really enjoy talking to people about kidnapping, killing and eating women.
The lawyer, Robert Baum, directed FBI Agent Corey Walsh to obvious falsehoods in communications that the government has used as evidence that Officer Gilberto Valle was serious about attacking women he knew, including his wife.