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

FBI understaffed to tackle cyber threats

fbiwanted

The FBI is struggling to attract computer scientists to its cybersecurity program mainly due to low pay, a report by the U.S. Department of Justice shows.

in Lifestyle

TOP 5: Worst things to buy online

16-overlay7

Money expert Matt Granite explores what items are best purchased online and what items are better left to the in-store shopping experience.

in Sports

NBA in Africa? ‘Stay tuned,’ for regular-season game

nbaallstar

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says "stay tuned" for a regular-season game in Africa as Chris Paul and others prepare to play the league's first exhibition on the continent.

in Sports

Boston’s bummer summer: Sox slump, Olympics snub, Brady out

bostonredsox

After the winter of their discontent, it's been one bummer of a summer for Bostonians.

in Sports

WATCH: Annual Virginia pony swim

11-overlay21

"Salt water cowboys" round up dozens of horses for the tradition off the Virginia coast, now in its 90th year.