News

Judge overturns conviction of ‘cannibal cop’

Judge overturns conviction of ‘cannibal cop’

'CANNIBAL COP:'This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle. A federal judge, late Monday, overturned Valle's kidnapping conspiracy conviction. Photo: Associated Press

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A former New York City police officer found guilty in March 2013 of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women has had his conviction overturned by a federal judge, according to court documents.

A federal judge granted the acquittal of Gilberto Valle, dubbed the “cannibal cop” by the tabloid media, on the charge of conspiracy to kidnap, in a decision reached on Monday and scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday. He was awaiting sentencing.

“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,” U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe in Manhattan wrote in the 118-page opinion.

The trial brought to light a macabre cyberspace community where millions of people discuss and exchange images and video of extraordinary brutality, much of it staged.

Federal public defenders had asked Gardephe to grant Valle a new trial, arguing the U.S. Constitution grants people the right to fantasize, free from government interference.

Gardephe upheld Valle’s conviction on a lesser charge of improperly accessing a law enforcement database, which prosecutors said he used to help find his intended victim. That charge carries a sentence up to one year in prison.

Prosecutors said Valle crossed the line from fantasy to reality by taking specific action in conspiring to kidnap women. Valle’s attorney had argued that he was merely engaged in online fantasy role playing.

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson and Jon Stempel; Editing by Bill Trott)

Recent Headlines

in National

Plane slides off runway, crashes into fence

12-overlay

A jetliner with 125 passengers aboard slid off the runway during a snowy landing at LaGuardia Airport, smashing into a fence at the edge of Flushing Bay.

in National

Supreme Court to hear gay marriage cases in April

gaymarriage

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether states can ban gay marriage.

in Sports

Prosecutors: No charges for NASCAR driver Kurt Busch

kurtbusch

Delaware prosecutors will not file criminal charges following allegations of domestic violence by his ex-girlfriend.

in Sports

2016 Rolex race to be first event at renovated Daytona

daytona

Daytona International Speedway will showcase its renovated motorsports stadium next January.

in Lifestyle

The elephants are out of the circus

elephant

The Ringling Bros. Circus says it will eliminate elephant acts by 2018 amid public concerns.