NEW YORK (AP) — The FBI had to grab a New York City police officer last year before he could go forward with a macabre scheme to abduct and cannibalize women that was “no joke,” a prosecutor said Thursday in closing arguments at the officer’s kidnapping conspiracy trial.
Gilberto Valle was in the midst of a plot to “kidnap, torture, rape and commit other horrific acts” on at least six women he knew, including his wife, Assistant U.S. Atty. Hadassa Waxman told a Manhattan jury.
“The law does not require that we wait until he carries out his crime,” she said.
Lawyers for Valle, whom local media have dubbed the “cannibal cop,” say he is being prosecuted for indulging in what they characterize as offensive but harmless fantasies fed by his visits to fetish websites meant solely for role playing. The officer insisted after his arrest that he never would have acted on his sick thoughts and “claimed he did not enjoy it and he did not know why he was doing it,” an FBI agent has testified.
But Waxman argued the evidence shows that 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.”
The prosecutor said that the 28-year-old 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.
He also viewed a clip of the slaughter of a goat — a “gruesome video … a practical how-to guide to killing, an educational tool for Valle’s killing,” the prosecutor said.
Valle, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie, showed no emotion Thursday as he listened to the prosecutor.
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 he was making elaborate plans to make meals out of them.
“Women who wanted no part of this were put in grave danger by that man, Gilberto Valle,” Waxman said.
The defense’s closing arguments were just getting underway, with one lawyer saying Valle’s talk of cannibalizing women was “no more real than an alien invasion.”
Valle could face life in prison if convicted on a kidnapping charge. Jury deliberations are expected to begin Friday.
Lawyers for the baby-faced Valle, who cried when his estranged wife testified against him, say he made up elaborate plans but did nothing to make any of them happen. The FBI began investigating Valle after his wife reported his online chats about abducting, killing and eating women, including her.
Valle’s lawyers presented evidence from witnesses that the officer did not have any of the tools of torture that he described in instant chats and emails, and did not own an upstate home where he had suggested he could cook a victim.
On two occasions, jurors seemed unnerved when they were shown sadistic pornography including what appeared to be a staged video of a chained, naked woman screaming as the flame of a torch was put beneath her crotch.
The trial also left Valle fighting back tears at times, including after the jury left the courtroom following the conclusion of the presentation of evidence on Tuesday.
“I think it’s just the knowledge that we’re finally coming to a conclusion and his fate is in the jury’s hands,” defense attorney Robert Baum said.