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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Jurors Can’t Stomach|’Cannibal Cop’ Case

MANHATTAN (CN) - Images of nude women being hogtied, skewered and boiled scared off about one-third of potential jurors being screened for the trial of a New York City policeman with an alleged appetite for cannibalism.

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.

Ninety candidates streamed into the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe to fill out a questionnaire.

Summarizing the evidence in the case, it stated: "Many of Mr. Valle's communications with others took place on sexual fetish websites in which people discuss, view, and post images and videos of sexual, sexually violent, and sexually deviant conduct, such as necrophilia (the practice of having sex with dead bodies), sexual asphyxiation (the intentional restriction of oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal), genital mutilation, rape fantasies, bondage and various forms of sadomasochism (the giving and/or receiving of pleasure - often sexual - from acts involving the infliction or reception of pain or humiliation)."

Jurors were asked to look at three cannibalism fantasy images: The first pictures a hogtied woman on a roasting tray with an apple in her mouth; the second showed a woman tied to a skewer that a disguised man is turning over a fire; and the last, a cartoon, depicted a woman being boiled in a stew.

Valle allegedly spliced the face of a woman he knew over the cartoon woman, which the court redacted to protect her privacy.

By the end of the day, nearly one-third of the 90 jurors were excused.

Judge Gardephe read some of their responses in court.

"I just don't think I can stomach it," one prospective juror said.

Another juror reported, "Trying not to cry and avoiding nausea became the most important thing."

Juror 76 wrote: "It literally makes my skin crawl. Any more evidence along these lines will only make me angry."

A "born-again believer in Jesus Christ" asked to be dismissed because the allegations were "too wicked" to bear.

A mother of two stated flatly: "From what I heard today, I would not be an impartial juror."

Several jurors acknowledged that they covered their eyes during violent movie scenes; others said they already had convicted Valle based on the media coverage of the case.

"The evidence of his guilt is clear," said Juror 50, based on New York Times and CNN coverage of the case. "Frankly, I'm surprised he's not being tried for other crimes."

Defense attorneys asked to dismiss a woman who said evidence would "horrify" her, but the judge replied that the defense would concede that the evidence was horrific.

"I suspect it will be very difficult for most of us to see the evidence," Judge Gardephe said.

That juror was one of 61 left standing, who were to return for oral questioning today (Monday).

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