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Thursday, June 13, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Next NYC Cannibalism Case Scheduled for Fall Trial

MANHATTAN (CN) - A 23-year-old accused of conspiring with the so-called "Cannibal Cop" will stand trial in November under the schedule newly set by a federal judge.

Prior to his January arrest and commitment to an isolation unit of the Manhattan Correction Center, Michael Vanhise was a young father of two living in his parents' basement in New Jersey.

Vanhise has not denied that he chatted on Darkfetishnet.com about kidnapping, raping, killing, cooking and eating women. His alleged co-conspirator Gilberto Valle, a former officer of the New York City Police Department, was convicted of conspiracy related to those chats last month.

Like Valle, Vanhise has claimed that such alarming conversations represent extreme Internet fantasy, not murderous plotting.

The fact that a federal jury rejected Valle's free-speech claims has not stopped Vanhise's attorney, Elizabeth Macedonio, from trying to have the charged against her client dismissed as unconstitutional.

She announced this intention during a brief hearing on Thursday.

Vanhise was ushered into the federal courthouse in a blue prison uniform and chained at the wrists and feet.

Manhattan Correction Center has said it isolated Vanhise in a so-called "special housing unit" to protect him from other inmates who heard about his case. The New York Daily News reported that Vanhise allegedly fantasized about sexually assaulting his infant daughter.

During the short hearing, the parties set a Nov. 4 trial date and a briefing schedule in the fight over Vanhise's pretrial motions. In addition to trying to dismiss the case, Vanhise also hopes to bar prosecutors from using the statements he gave federal agents.

Asked after the hearing to differentiate her maneuver from the one that failed Valle, Macedonio told Courthouse News that her client's case involved a different set of facts, but she declined to elaborate.

The "Cannibal Cop" case hinged upon whether Valle committed "overt acts" to put his fantasy into motion.

Valle broke into a national crime database for information about the women he targeted, drove to Maryland to see one of them, and gave them Police Benevolent Association cards.

The Vanhise indictment does not accuse him of committing an overt act outside the Internet.

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