'Cannibal Cop' Apple Falls Close to Tree
MANHATTAN (CN) - The son of a judge who investigated New York City's so-called "cannibal cop" might sit on the jury for the trial of the man his father helped indict.
NYPD Officer Gilberto Valle, 28, is charged with conspiring with men he met on Internet chat rooms to "kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat" women.
Valle claims he was just one of more than 40,000 visitors to a website catering to extreme sexual fetishes he never wanted to enact.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe on Friday dismissed about one-third of potential jurors, who said they could not handle the subject matter after being shown cannibal fantasy images.
The 61 candidates who remained Monday included a crew of people with wide-ranging experiences in the court system.
One candidate, Thomas Dolinger, 25, told the court he is the son of a magistrate judge in the Southern District of New York, but he said he did not see this as a conflict.
The young liberal arts graduate is an editorial intern at the New York Review of Books, and spends his free time reading literary magazines, going to museums and viewing old Woody Allen movies and French New Wave cinema.
He sported black-rimmed eyeglasses like those worn by a young Jean-Luc Godard.
After the potential jurors had left the room, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman disclosed that that young man's father, Michael Dolinger, might have signed off on a warrant in Valle's case in the early stages of the investigation.
It is unclear whether the younger Dolinger knew about this.
By the end of the day, defense attorney Julia Gatto allowed him to stay for more questioning.
Another prospective juror, Christopher Danzig, said his uncle served as under secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy in the Clinton administration.
That fits the description of Richard Danzig, who now chairs the Center for a New American Security think tank.
The younger Danzig was excused from the case for unrelated, undisclosed reasons.
Nancy Berke disclosed an uncanny coincidence.
"I'm not sure, but I believe our children know each other," she told Judge Gardephe, to laughter in the court.
Gardephe looked quizzically at his notes and asked for her juror number.
"Well, I hope they like each other," he said.
Prospective jurors around the courtroom raised their hands when asked whether they knew or interacted with police officers, FBI agents or judges.
Ingrid Dixon said she's worked as a legal assistant for 30 years, "even though I look so young."
She said she knew an officer involved in "very confidential" operations.
"Don't ask," she told the judge. "I can't say anything more."
She volunteered that she entertained conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, which claimed her sister's husband.
"[I'm] not convinced one way or another," she said. "I am a skeptic."
Later in the day, Judge Gardephe read a list of names and emails associated with the case, but no other potential conflicts came up.
The email addresses included girleating, meatmarketman and tedslutmasher, attached to various domain names.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to begin issuing challenges this morning. The court is expected to swear in a panel by the end of the day.
The case will then recess until Feb. 25 for the start of trial.