Only in NY: ‘Cannibal Cop’ Jurors|Probe Location, Location, Location

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Jurors tasked with deciding whether a police officer conspired to kidnap and eat women will resume deliberations Monday after admitting unease about venue.
     New York Police Department officer Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old Queens resident, engaged in Internet chats with men from Great Britain, India and New Jersey about kidnapping, raping, killing and eating women.
     Prosecutors charged him in Manhattan, where Valle served as a beat cop for the Upper West Side.
     He faces two counts for allegedly conspiring to kidnap women and researching them through an illegal federal database search.
     U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe sent the jury Thursday to deliberate whether Valle’s conversations indicated a criminal conspiracy, or a man with a violent fantasy life.
     Jurors sent Gardephe a note Friday indicating that one or more jurors doubted that the case belonged in Manhattan.
     They asked: “Would you please instruct us on whether acts committed by a co-conspirator (or the defendant) outside of the Southern District of New York may be attributed to the defendant if we find no overt act in the Southern District of New York?”
     U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe told them that they could consider actions committed elsewhere, but they must find that Valle or one of his suspected co-conspirators carried out any part of the alleged plot in the Southern District of New York.
     The jury instructions state: “It is sufficient to find venue in the Southern District of New York if you find that the defendant or any co-conspirator committed any act in furtherance of the conspiracy in this district during the existence of the conspiracy.”
     The district includes Manhattan, the Bronx and Westchester County, as well as the surrounding waters of nearly every New York City borough and Long Island.
     There is no evidence that any alleged co-conspirator crossed these lines during the time period of the case.
     Although Valle worked in Manhattan, he engaged in his computer chats from his house in Queens, whose federal jurisdiction is the Eastern District of New York.
     Prosecutors claim that he accessed a criminal database that triggers a response from Manhattan’s One Police Plaza while looking up information about his alleged targets.
     Valle engaged in two of these database searches before the time of the alleged conspiracy. The third time, he searched for a woman who is not mentioned in the charged conspiracy, according to the defense.
     Prosecutors also insist that Valle gave them jurisdiction through a trip he took to Maryland to have brunch with a college friend, Kimberly Sauer, whom he fantasized about eating before and after his visit. It is impossible to drive from Queens to Maryland without passing through the Southern District of New York, prosecutors say.
     Valle’s lawyers contend that the Maryland visit was not an “overt act,” but rather a brunch between Sauer, Valle, and his wife and daughter.
     The conscientious jurors requested, and received, a flipbook to map out the facts of the case, and they asked for transcripts of testimony by six witnesses this morning.
     At least one of the jurors is a lawyer.
     They failed to reach a verdict Friday and will resume deliberations Monday.

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