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 Local

Petition Effort To Restore Death Penalty Completed

vote

A referendum petition drive far exceeded the number of signatures needed to keep the repeal of the death penalty from taking effect...and to force a vote on the issue.

in Local

Authorities Seek To Control Mussels

zebra mussel

Now that growing numbers of zebra mussels have been confirmed in Lewis & Clark Lake, the focus changes to slowing the spread of the invasive animal.

in Local

South Dakota Students Above Average

education 2

A.C.T. scores from last spring’s testing have been released by the South Dakota Department of Education, and the states students continue to score above the national average.

in Local

School Districts Seek Additonal Funding

College Money Student

A record number of Minnesota school districts -- 66 at last count -- are asking voters to increase property taxes this year so they can construct new buildings.

in Local

Event To Prepare Meals

grocery bag

A volunteer effort billed as "the nation's largest food packaging event" kicks-off today in Des Moines.