NEW YORK (AP) — A defense lawyer resumed his attack Thursday on the government's claims that a city police officer conspired with Internet friends to kidnap, kill and eat women, asking an FBI agent why some communications were proof of a crime while others were deemed fantasies.
The lawyer, Robert Baum, directed FBI Agent Corey Walsh to obvious falsehoods in communications that the government has used as evidence that Officer Gilberto Valle was serious about attacking women he knew, including his wife.
In one, an Internet friend who went by the name Moody Blues insisted he and Valle would need a secluded place to cook a woman alive.
"I have a place in the mountains," Valle wrote. "Nobody's around for three quarters of a mile."
Asked if that was true, Walsh testified that authorities "are not aware of a place he had in the mountains."
Valle has been held without bail since October, when he was arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap women in a cannibalism plot born on the Internet. Also charged with illegal use of a nationwide database to gather information about prospective victims, he could face life in prison if he is convicted at a trial in federal court in Manhattan that is expected to last two weeks.
Throughout the trial that began Monday, Valle's lawyers have attacked government evidence as nothing more than the reflection of a man engaging in extreme sexual fantasies with like-minded individuals around the world. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and no women were injured.
For two days, Walsh read aloud the graphic online communications between Valle and his alleged co-conspirators as they spoke of watching women suffer as they cook them alive, including Valle's wife, who fled their Queens home and turned a computer over to the FBI in September after discovering the Internet chats.
On Wednesday, Baum showed the jury that in the middle of one of his thousands of Internet conversations about cannibalism, Valle paused and claimed he'd never really do it.
"I just like pushing the envelope," he wrote to one man.
Baum tried to show that the FBI arbitrarily built its case on roughly 40 emails and chats that agents deemed real evidence of the 28-year-old Valle's plot — even though the missives are largely indistinguishable from ones the investigators dismissed as role play.
Walsh confirmed that authorities had written off one message about a real 18-year-old who's a witness in the case as fantasy, even though another message with nearly identical wording was viewed as a real threat against her.
The woman was "one of the most desirable pieces of meat I've ever met," Valle wrote.
The agent also conceded the entire batch of emails had running themes: Valle discussing how to cook women, how much it would cost to abduct them and which women would make good targets. Whether found to be real or fake, the emails contained some of the same names of real women and their photographs.
"Isn't it a fact that some of the chats you found to be fantasies involved cooking women?" Baum asked.
"It could have been," Walsh answered.
The defense also has sought to remind jurors that no evidence of a crime was found in his apartment besides a computer — no rope, pulleys or chemicals to render someone unconscious despite Valle's Internet boasts that he wanted to assemble a torture chamber.