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New York City police officer convicted in cannibalism case

  • Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A  federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York. A federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.” Valle, 28, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

    FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

  • FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

    FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

  • FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

    FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

    FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York. A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.” Valle, 28, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York. A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.” Valle, 28, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A  federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

    Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York. A federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.” Valle, 28, faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

  • FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

    FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

  • FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

    FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

  • Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A  federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
  • FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)
  • FILE - This undated file photo submitted into evidence by defense attorney Julia L. Gatto shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. Valle, accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women _ including his wife _ was convicted of conspiracy Monday, March 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)
  • FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
  • FILE - This Oct. 25, 2012, file photo shows a passage from a Federal complaint filed against Gilberto Valle, a New York City police officer charged with plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women. Valle, whose lawyers said he was just fantasizing and had no intention of harming anyone, was found guilty on Tuesday, March 3, 2013 of conspiracy and of accessing a national crime database. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
  • Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
  • Elizabeth Valle is surrounded by news reporters as she leaves court on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A federal jury convicted her son, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
  • Defense lawyers, Julia Gatto, left, and, Robert Baum, hold a news briefing on Tuesday, March 12, 2013 in New York.   A  federal jury convicted their client, New York City police officer Gilberto Valle, of charges he plotted to kidnap and cook women to dine on their “girl meat.”   Valle, 28,  faces up to life in prison when he is sentenced on June 19. With the conviction, he loses his job as a police officer.  (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
  • FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)
  • FILE - This undated court evidence file photo shows New York City police Officer Gilberto Valle with his daughter. A jury on Tuesday, March 12, 2013, found Valle guilty of conspiring to kidnap, kill and cannibalize as many as six women that he knew, including his wife. (AP Photo/Provided by Attorney Julia L. Gatto, File)

Valle, 28, was convicted Tuesday of conspiracy in a macabre case that opened a window on a shocking Internet world of cannibalism fetishists. He could get life in prison at sentencing June 19 but is likely to face much less.

His lawyers branded the outcome a “thought prosecution” that sets a dangerous precedent, while federal prosecutors said the verdict proved that Valle crossed the line from fantasy to reality and was genuinely bent on committing “grotesque crimes.”

Valle slumped in his chair, dropped his head and wept when the verdict in what the tabloids dubbed the “Cannibal Cop” trial was announced after more than two days of deliberations: guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and guilty of illegally using a police database.

The jurors left the courthouse without comment. Most did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages or declined to discuss the case.

Valle’s mother, Elizabeth, shook her head.

“I’m in shock and want to be left alone,” she said. As she sat on a wooden bench after almost everyone had left the courtroom, she said loudly: “This is going to kill my mother.”

Prosecutors said Valle plotted in lusty, lip-smacking detail to abduct, torture and cannibalize six women he knew, including his wife. While none of the women were ever harmed — and only his wife discovered his schemes — prosecutors said he took concrete steps to carry out his plot.

They said the New York City police officer looked up potential targets on a restricted law enforcement database; searched the Internet for how to knock someone out with chloroform and where to get torture devices and other tools; and showed up on a woman’s block after striking an agreement to kidnap her for $5,000 for a New Jersey man who wanted to rape and kill her. That man was also arrested and is awaiting trial.

In one of the numerous online conversations shown to the jury, Valle told a man he met in a fetish chat room, “I want her to experience being cooked alive. She’ll be trussed up like a turkey. ... She’ll be terrified, screaming and crying.”

In another exchange, Valle suggested a woman he knew would be easy prey because she lived alone. The men discussed cooking her, basted in olive oil, over an open fire and using her severed head as a centerpiece for a sit-down meal.

“I’m dying to eat some girl meat,” Valle mused in yet another exchange.

During the trial, Valle’s wife tearfully testified that she fled the couple’s home with her baby and contacted the FBI after putting Internet tracking software on his computer and discovering what he was up to.

Members of the jury recoiled upon seeing what appeared to be mostly staged Internet images from a sexual fetish site Valle visited. The images included photos of wide-eyed women with apples stuffed in their mouths like roasted pigs and a video of a chained, naked woman screaming as flames appeared to scorch her crotch.

Marcellus McRae, a former federal prosecutor in Los Angeles now in private practice, said it was a stretch by the defense to claim Valle was prosecuted for his thoughts because the jurors were required to find that he took one or more concrete steps to carry out the conspiracy.

“It’s not just a thought crime. It’s a thought-and-action crime and conviction,” he said.

———

Associated Press writer Tom Hays contributed to this report.

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