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New York "cannibal cop" in tears as defense rests after one day

Federal Defender Julia Gatto (R) speaks to the court as former New York City police officer Gilberto Valle (C), dubbed by local media as the
Federal Defender Julia Gatto (R) speaks to the court as former New York City police officer Gilberto Valle (C), dubbed by local media as the

By Chris Francescani

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York City cop on trial for plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women shed tears on Tuesday as his attorneys rested their case after one day.

"Just knowing that we've finally come to the conclusion (of the trial) and that his fate is in the jury's hands" made Officer Gilberto Valle emotional, attorney Robert Baum said after court ended.

"That's a huge weight for someone to bear," Baum said.

Closing arguments were scheduled for early on Thursday.

Since the trial's start last week, jurors have heard excerpts read aloud from dozens of Internet chats and emails in which Valle talked with others about murdering and eating women. Those women included his estranged wife, Kathleen Mangan-Valle.

Out of two dozen plots involving women, at least three were real, prosecutors contended.

Defense lawyers said their client's cyber-plots were "pure fiction," no more dangerous than a Stephen King novel or a horror movie.

They concluded the defense case without calling Valle to the witness stand or noted forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz, who interviewed the cannibalistic serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

Earlier on Tuesday, defense attorneys showed jurors a video tour of DarkFetishNet.com, the website where prosecutors say Valle's kidnap plots were first hatched.

Jurors saw graphic pictures of mutilation, hanging corpses and profile pages for members with names like Vicious Vixen.

Banner ads were displayed throughout the site for various torture erotica websites that featured pictures of bound women and men beside lines such as "Their pain. Your Gain," and "Dead Girls Are Easy."

Jurors received a brief dose of comic relief from a videotaped deposition of the creator of DarkFetishNet.com, who repeatedly compared his violent, sexual, fantasy role-play website to Facebook.

"It's a social media network very similar to Facebook," Sergay Merenkov, 34, said in describing how the site works.

"It does everything that Facebook does," he said during the deposition, which was taken recently in Moscow.

Prosecutors have accused Valle of conspiring to kidnap, cook and eat women, saying many of his plots were hatched on DarkFetishNet.

Asked at one point whether he knew all of the 37,000 members of his website, Merenkov, wearing a black T-shirt and sipping from an "I Love Tea" mug, scoffed at a prosecutor.

"No," he said, drawing muted smiles from weary jurors. "That's like asking (Facebook creator Mark) Zuckerberg if he knows each and every member of Facebook."

After months of online role play last year, Valle began to act on his fantasies when he met one of his online "targets" for brunch and improperly accessed a law enforcement database to get personal information on another, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson has alleged.

Valle's secret online life began to unravel last year after Mangan-Valle said he began acting oddly and spent much of his time on the couple's computer. She discovered dozens of files her husband kept on their computer about women, including herself, that he wanted to kidnap, torture and murder, she testified.

She contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Valle was arrested in October.

(Editing by Daniel Trotta, desking by G Crosse)

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