NEW YORK – The jury at the trial of a New York City police officer accused of plotting to kill women and eat their body parts won't be shown gruesome photos from websites he visited but will see evidence of Internet searches on subjects like "how to cook a human," a judge ruled on Monday.
As part of their case in federal court in Manhattan, prosecutors had wanted to present up to 34 exhibits of ghastly images, including ones depicting women being tortured, dead bodies and body parts. The photos were found during an FBI analysis of Officer Gilberto Valle's computer.
"What we don't have is proof that he ever saw the images here," U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe said at the start of the second week of Valle's kidnapping conspiracy trial.
The judge described the excluded pictures as "what appeared to be murdered and mutilated women in scenes related to cannibalism."
The photos included a picture of a dead body with the feet cut off -- an image Valle's wife testified she saw when she went to one of his favorite sites and discovered why he stayed up late online. The defense had argued that the images may have been saved automatically without him ever seeing them.
The judge also ruled that prosecutors can show jurors web screenshots of Valle's Internet searches for "Human meat recipes," "How to cook a human" and "eat her for dinner." Also admitted was evidence Valle looked up articles written about the rape and murder of a young woman and others about a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in California.
Valle, 28, has been held without bail since his October arrest. Throughout the trial, which began last week, his lawyers have attacked government evidence as nothing more than the reflection of a man engaging in extreme sexual fantasies with like-minded people around the world. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and that no women were harmed.
Jurors have heard testimony from Valle's estranged wife and from former classmates and other women who said they knew Valle on a casual basis and never considered him dangerous. Their testimony was followed by evidence that all of them were the subjects of emails and chats describing how they could be snatched away and eaten.