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Jury set for cannibalism case as disturbing trial nears start

By Steve Mosco

Jurors were chosen this week for the grim task of deciding the fate of former Forest Hills Officer Gilberto Valle, who is accused of planning to practice cannibalism on a number of women.

The trial was scheduled to begin in Manhattan federal court Feb. 25.

The U.S. attorney’s office for the Southern District said Valle allegedly conspired with a number of individuals to carry out the cannibalistic plot on about 100 women he had collected information on, using his position as an NYPD officer to access a database called the National Crime Information Center to gain additional information on his targets.

According to reports in the New York Post, potential jurors were shown images of torture to gauge whether or not they could stomach such images during court proceedings.

A gender-split jury of six men and six women was chosen Tuesday to hear the upcoming federal trial, according to the U.S. District Court.

Valle was arrested in October and faces charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, and accessing the database without authorization and obtaining information from a U.S. department and agency, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

In September, the FBI learned of online communications between Valle and a number of people who were discussing the abductions.

In one instance, Valle told an unidentified person, “I was thinking of tying her body to some kind of apparatus … cook her over low heat, keep her alive as long as possible,” according to the criminal complaint filed by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Last month, a New Jersey man was arrested in connection with Valle. The man, Michael Vanhise, of Hamilton, N.J., allegedly conspired with Valle to kidnap and rape a woman.

Earlier this month, prosecutors said Valle allegedly offered his wife to an Internet co-conspirator who claimed to be a butcher in India.

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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