NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors planned to use a graphically detailed trail of emails, computer files and instant messages to show that a New York City police officer had dangerous schemes to abduct women, cook them and devour them.
Opening statements were expected early Monday afternoon in the case against 28-year-old Gilberto Valle.
"I'm planning on getting me some girl meat," Valle allegedly wrote in one chat room. "It's this November, for Thanksgiving. ... She's not a volunteer. She has to be abducted."
A criminal complaint claimed that Valle had created a computer file cataloging at least 100 women with their names, addresses and photos. And it accused him of illegally culling some of the information from a restricted law enforcement database.
He is charged with conspiring to kidnap a woman and unauthorized use of a law enforcement database. A conviction on the kidnapping count carries a possible life sentence.
A prosecutor told a judge on Monday the government had decided not to have an FBI agent testify about disputed cellphone data it claimed showed Valle stalked his victims.
Prosecutors have enough "overwhelming other evidence" to prove their case, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson.
The baby-faced tabloid sensation known as the "Cannibal Cop" is expected to take the stand as his defense tries to make the case that it was all fantasy, that his online chats were so offensive, so over-the-top that they couldn't possibly be taken seriously.
In pretrial proceedings, defense attorney Julia Gatto even showed prospective jurors a kinky staged photo of a woman trussed up in a roasting pan, aiming to drive home the argument that Valle's only appetite was for fantasies.
"The government's case is nothing more than a hard drive full of disturbing, sexually deviant talk between my client and other men who share his, albeit weird, proclivities," the attorney said.
The defense has been bolstered by pretrial rulings that will allow Valle's lawyers to call expert witnesses expected to give jurors a tutorial on online sexual deviance and fetishes often called "vore," short for carnivore.
A clinical sexologist will testify about sexually explicit websites that "resemble improvisational theater," court papers say. "The style is to maintain the repartee, regardless of how implausible, ridiculous or even impossible the conversations gets."
A forensic psychiatrist and criminologist who examined Valle and contends most men "who have sexually sadistic fantasies ... engage in no harmful actions toward others," the papers say.
The witness found that Valle has no serious mental illness or personality disorders related to violence. Instead, he says, the defendant has recurring fantasies of sexual sadism - a condition known as paraphilia.
At trial's end, Valle's fate will rest with a jury of six men and six women, most of whom are college-educated and have lived in Manhattan or New York's suburbs most of their lives.
A New Jersey man charged with scheming with Valle to kidnap, rape and murder a Manhattan woman is awaiting trial. He also says he intended no harm.