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Wednesday, May 29, 2024 | Back issues
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Gender Equality On|’Cannibal Cop’ Jury

MANHATTAN (CN) - A diverse jury of six men and six women will hear the case of a New York City police officer accused of plotting to kill and eat women.

Prosecutors claim Gilberto Valle, 28, conspired with men he met in Internet chat rooms to "kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat," women, and broke into a national crime database to profile his victims.

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.

Jury selection was completed Tuesday.

Valle's defense attorneys will call forensic psychologist Park Dietz, who testified against Jeffrey Dahmer. Dietz will testify that Valle would not have crossed the line from fantasy to reality, Federal Defenders of New York, Inc. wrote on letterhead to the prosecuting federal attorneys.

The letter cites a number of high-profile cases in which Dietz testified for the prosecution, including the trials of Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski, the "New York Zodiac" serial killer, President Reagan's unsuccessful assassin John Hinckley Jr., and the Washington, D.C. snipers.

The sensational allegations and press coverage in Valle's case initially led U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe to worry about whether an impartial jury could be convened on the first try.

Nearly one-third of the prospective jurors were excused after they wrote on questionnaires that they couldn't handle dealing with samples of some of the lurid evidence that they were shown.

Some of those who remained had scheduling conflicts; one was the son of a federal magistrate judge who helped produce the indictment against Valle.

The prosecutors, not the defense, chose to eliminate the son from the case.

On Tuesday, however, after three days of interviews, Gardephe empanelled 12 jurors, diverse by age, ethnicity and profession and evenly split by gender.

Two women and one man will serve as alternatives.

Lorraine Zemaio, a 65-year-old from Westchester, told the court she would have no trouble viewing the evidence.

She watches horror films, she said later.

A few prospective jurors who didn't make the cut reported that they closed their eyes during violent movies.

Another horror fan, Edward Snible, is a 45-year-old Bronx resident who works for a software company and reads science fiction, mystery novels and Hacker News.

A corporate lawyer, an actuary and a teacher will also be sitting on the jury.

After a brief swearing-in ceremony, Judge Gardephe excused the jurors for two weeks to iron out final pretrial issues. They will return for opening arguments on Feb. 25.

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