Jury done for day at NYC cannibal-plot trial

AP News
Posted: Mar 08, 2013 6:19 PM
Jury done for day at NYC cannibal-plot trial

NEW YORK (AP) — A jury ended its first full day of deliberations on Friday without a verdict in the case of a New York City police officer accused of plotting to abduct and cannibalize women.

The jurors received the case late Thursday after hearing a defense lawyer tell them in closing arguments that elaborate plans of Officer Gilberto Valle were fantasy role-play, while a prosecutor said they were "no joke."

Valle, 28, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping conspiracy and with misusing a national database to learn personal information about potential targets. If convicted, he 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.

The jury is due to resume deliberations on Monday morning.

In the closing arguments earlier this week, 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.

A Trenton, N.J. man charged in the conspiracy, Michael Vanhise, has pleaded not guilty and is to stand trial separately.