A defense attorney for a police officer accused in a cannibalism plot pressed an FBI agent to explain where fantasy ends and reality begins Wednesday after the investigator read aloud several dozen Internet chats in which participants boasted of plans to cook and eat human flesh.
Attorney Robert Baum attacked FBI agent Corey Walsh's statement that 40 of the thousands of Internet communications of Officer Gilberto Valle that he reviewed contained "elements of real crimes." Valle is accused in Manhattan federal court of conspiring to kidnap, kill and eat women he knew, including his wife.
Baum's cross examination aimed to show little or no distinction existed between chats or emails the FBI deemed real evidence of a crime and those dismissed as fantasy.
The agent conceded both had similar elements: Valle discussing how to cook women, how much it would cost to abduct them and which women would make good targets.
Walsh conceded that some chats or emails considered fantasies contained photographs and names of real women and dates and references to past crimes, the kind of factual information that prosecutors have insisted proves Valle meant to carry out gruesome crimes including kidnapping, rape, torture, murder and cannibalism.
"Isn't it a fact that some of the chats you found to be fantasies involved cooking women?" Baum asked.
"It could have been," Walsh answered.
The agent also conceded that no women were kidnapped or harmed and that Valle never had contact with his supposed co-conspirators outside the Internet.
In addition, the agent said, no evidence of a crime was found in Valle's apartment besides a computer. There was no rope, pulleys or chemicals to render someone unconscious despite Valle's Internet boasts that he wanted to assemble a torture chamber or that he had an upstate property where he could cook women, Walsh said.
Valle, 28, has pleaded not guilty. He could face life in prison if he is convicted of conspiracy and illegal use of a crime database, a crime prosecutors say stems from his use of a federal database to research potential victims.
Prior to cross examination, Walsh showed jurors graphic X-rated communications between Valle and a butcher in India early last year as they discussed plans to torture and cook Valle's soon-to-be wife and a former college roommate.
"I have longed to butcher and cook female meat," Valle told Aly Khan, Walsh said.
Khan offered to provide a place in Pakistan to kill a woman once she was taken to India, the agent said.
For two days, Walsh has testified about chats Valle participated in last year with a New Jersey co-defendant and two supposed co-conspirators, a man in Great Britain and Khan, both of whom posed on the Internet as veterans of cannibalism who could teach Valle cannibalism skills.
In several emails read by Walsh, Valle seemed eager to offer the woman he would marry a few months later to Khan, though he added: "She is a sweet girl. I like her a lot. But I will move on."
Valle wrote that he could take her to India and then Pakistan, where they could gag her in a basement, hang her from her feet and take turns sexually assaulting her before slitting her throat and cooking her.
"I just love the thought of stringing her upside down," Valle wrote in an email shown to jurors.
He said he would like "to see her suffer" and "slowly roast her until she dies."
In a later email, Khan taunted Valle.
"Are you really into it?" he asked.
"Yes," Valle answered.
"Are you sure?" Khan asked.
"Definitely," Valle said.
Khan, seemingly content, said: "Get your mind ready. I will guide the rest."
Later, Valle discussed plans to attack a Columbus, Ohio, woman he knew in college.
"I want her to experience being cooked alive," he said in one exchange. "She'll be trussed up like a turkey. ... She'll be terrified, screaming and crying."
He wrote that her death would "definitely make the news" and there will be "plenty of suspects" because she is a prosecutor.
The woman, Andria Noble, testified Monday she never knew Valle to be violent when they attended the University of Maryland.
If jurors are offended or horrified by the gruesome testimony, they haven't shown it. Three of them even yawned during the reading of the Internet exchanges.
The six men and six women sitting on the jury mostly sat stone-faced and silent as they listened to the agent's monotone recitation of seemingly grimace-worthy evidence — remarks by Valle like, "I'm dying to taste some girl meat" and discussions about using one potential victim's severed head as a centerpiece for a feast of body parts.
The government hasn't said what roles Khan and the man in Great Britain played in the investigation.