NEW YORK – A New York City police officer told investigators after his arrest that his fascination with cannibalism set him on a downward spiral that was wrecking his personal life, an FBI agent testified Friday.
Agent Anthony Foto told jurors at the trial of Officer Gilberto Valle on a kidnapping conspiracy charge that Valle claimed after his October arrest that he did not really enjoy talking to people about kidnapping, killing and eating women.
"He claimed he would not have gone through with it. He claimed he did not enjoy it and he did not know why he was doing it," the agent said in federal court in Manhattan.
Foto told jurors that Valle said his chats and emails with others on the Internet about cannibalism and the torture and killing of women was starting to destroy his personal life, leaving him exhausted and uninterested in sex with his wife.
The agent said that when he asked Valle why he thought he was being arrested, the officer said he believed it was for conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder.
And when Valle was told to stay calm and everything will be fine, Valle responded: "I don't think so," the agent said.
As Valle was interviewed at FBI headquarters, he admitted that he had spoken to others on the Internet about kidnapping, killing and cannibalism, and he agreed to help the FBI distinguish between which people on the Internet were real threats and which were not.
The testimony came as the government winds down its case against the 28-year-old officer. Valle contends it was all fantasy and he intended no harm.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Robert Baum drew the jury's attention to moments when the FBI tricked his client, including when the FBI told him he been under investigation for a year.
"That was a lie, right? Baum asked.
"Of course," Foto responded, acknowledging that Valle had been under investigation for only a few weeks. He said the ruse was investigative technique aimed at getting the defendant to speak.
The testimony came on a day when the government was seeking to show jurors Internet images of dead and dismembered people.
Defense lawyers are opposing the presentation of as many as 34 ghastly exhibits of images the government says it took from Valle's computer.
U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe has not yet decided if jurors will see the pictures that defense lawyers say may have been saved on the officer's computer automatically without him ever seeing them when he went on certain websites.
The government says the exhibits include a picture of a dead body with feet unattached, 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.
Valle has been held without bail since his October arrest. Throughout the trial, which 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 people around the world. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and no women were harmed.
Jurors have heard testimony from Valle's estranged wife and from former classmates and other women who testified 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.