NEW YORK (CNN) — The fate of a New York City police officer accused of engaging in a plot to kidnap women and cannibalize them now lies in the hands of the jury.
Jurors began deliberations to determine whether e-mail conversations Gilberto Valle had with alleged co-conspirators about plans to kidnap, torture, rape, cook and eat women were real or fantasy role-play.
Valle, who was suspended without pay after his arrest in October, is charged in U.S. District Court with conspiracy to kidnap and accessing a law enforcement database illegally. None of Valle’s alleged targets was ever victimized. Valle faces life in prison if convicted of conspiracy.
In closing arguments, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman argued that the evidence shown in court proved that Valle had entered into an agreement with his co-conspirators to kidnap the alleged targets through e-mail conversations. Waxman argued that Valle conducted surveillance and handed out police charity cards in furtherance of his plan to kidnap the targets.
Waxman argued that Valle expressed “real, practical concern” for getting caught during his conversations and was methodical and strategic in his online research of how to carry out kidnappings. She said Valle’s research of mass murderers and kidnappers were proof that he was trying to be careful about his alleged plan.
Waxman urged the jury to use “common sense” and look at the “big picture” during deliberation.
Defense attorney Julia Gatto began her closing statements by repeating “I have a world in my mind,” Valle’s words to another fantasy role-play partner extracted from e-mail conversations revealed in court. “In that world I’m kidnapping women and selling them to people interested in buying them,” she read aloud from Valle’s e-mail conversation.
She said Valle had engaged in “dark improv theater” and said he fantasized about real people to heighten the experience. Gatto told the jury that it was a part of “crude, stupid, infantile, masturbatory storytelling.”
Gatto said the government’s case was “riddled with reasonable doubt.” She noted that testimony in court revealed the FBI did not find the chloroform, rope, or a human-size oven that Valle alleged he had.
“This case is about storytelling, and the government has told a story too,” Gatto said in court.
Assistant U.S Attorney Randall Jackson said in his rebuttal that evidence proved that “this was not someone just having fun.” He banged his fist on the table, telling the jury that government evidence revealed “things you would expect to see in a plot to actively victimize someone.”
“His porn consists of dead bodies,” Jackson said. “That is not normal.”
In his instructions, Judge Paul Gardephe advised jurors not to convict based solely on the defendant’s thoughts alone, or the nature of the content on the Dark Fetish Network reviewed in court.
The jury will resume its deliberations Friday morning.