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Judge overturns conviction in cannibal case and frees ex-officer

NEW YORK — A former New York Police Department officer left jail on Tuesday after a judge stunned prosecutors and overturned his conviction in a sensational case accusing him of plotting on the Internet to kidnap, kill and eat young women, including his wife.

Judge Paul Gardephe ruled late Monday that there was insufficient evidence to support a jury's guilty verdict in the kidnapping conspiracy conviction of Gilberto Valle. The judge agreed with defense arguments that the defendant's bizarre exchanges in fetish chat rooms about cannibalizing women never put anyone in danger.

Valle's "depraved, misogynistic sexual fantasies about his wife, former college classmates and acquaintances undoubtedly reflected a mind diseased," the judge wrote. But, he added, prosecutors failed to prove he had entered into genuine agreements to kidnap the women and taken concrete steps to carry them out.

At a hearing Tuesday before his release, Valle — dubbed the "Cannibal Cop" by the tabloids — smiled at his family and hugged his attorneys. He later told reporters he was eager to go home after spending more than 20 months behind bars.

"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone I hurt, shocked and offended with my infantile behavior," he said. He also thanked his family and fellow inmates at a federal lockup for helping him endure an "impossible situation."

Prosecutors will appeal. "The government believes the jury got it right," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman.

Valle, 40, was arrested in 2012 after his wife discovered disturbing material on his computer and reported it to the FBI. He was convicted in 2013 on the conspiracy charge — which carries a possible life term — and a misdemeanor count of illegally accessing a law enforcement database.

With mother Elizabeth Valle by his side, Gilberto Valle apologized about his “infantile behavior” in engaging in web chats about kidnapping and eating young women.

Associated Press

With mother Elizabeth Valle by his side, Gilberto Valle apologized about his “infantile behavior” in engaging in web chats about kidnapping and eating young women.

Judge overturns conviction in cannibal case and frees ex-officer 07/01/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 1, 2014 10:52pm]

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