Cannibal-plot case tossed out of court, former NY cop gets out of jail
By Tom Hays
July 3, 2014, 12:05 am TWN
NEW YORK--A former New York Police Department officer left jail on Tuesday after a judge overturned his conviction in a bizarre case accusing him of plotting to kidnap, kill and eat young women.
Judge Paul Gardephe ruled late Monday that there was insufficient evidence to support a jury's guilty verdict in the kidnapping conspiracy conviction of Gilberto Valle. His lawyers had argued that the alleged plots were really fantasy online role play that never put anyone in harm's way.
He offered a public apology outside court “to anyone who was hurt, shocked or offended by my infantile actions.”
Valle — dubbed by the tabloids as the “Cannibal Cop” — smiled at his family and hugged his lawyers in court. The judge set bail at US$100,000 and ordered home detention for the defendant after prosecutors told him they intended to appeal his ruling.
“The government believes the jury got it right,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman.
Valle was convicted in March 2013 on the conspiracy charge — which carries a possible life term — and a misdemeanor count of illegally accessing a law enforcement database.
Valle, 40, “is guilty of nothing more than very unconventional thoughts,” one of his attorneys, Julia Gatto, said outside court. “We don't put people in jail for their thoughts. We are not the thought police.”
A jury had concluded he wasn't just fantasizing when he conversed online with others he had never met about killing and cooking his wife and others in a cannibalism plot.
In his 118-page opinion, Gardephe said: “The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle's Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play.”