A federal judge overturned a former New York City police officer's conviction for plotting gruesome crimes against women Monday night, based on a lack of evidence.
Gilberto Valle — given the moniker "cannibal cop" — was found guilty of plotting to kidnap, rape, kill, and then eat several women, including his wife, in 2013. His conviction was largely based on evidence found on fetish websites in which Valle openly discussed which women in his life would be easiest to kidnap and then butcher, sending online friends "blueprint" documents including real women's names and photos. He also wrote about opening a restaurant that served human flesh.
According to the New York Times, Judge Paul G. Gardephe overturned the case because he did not believe that the evidence supported the conviction.
"The evidentiary record is such that it is more likely than not the case that all of Valle’s Internet communications about kidnapping are fantasy role-play," Gardephe wrote in his opinion page. He continued that although the chats were "misogynistic… Despite the highly disturbing nature of Valle’s deviant and depraved sexual interests, his chats and emails about these interests are not sufficient — standing alone — to make out the elements of conspiracy to commit kidnapping."
Valle has been in jail since his late 2012 arrest, and had faced a life sentence. During his time behind bars, he became a prison chef in what the New York Daily News called "the most ironic jail work assignment in recent memory."
Valle's mother told the NYDN that fellow inmates would joke, "Don’t stand too close to the oven, and that kind of thing."
The judge upheld Valle's conviction of illegally gaining access to a law enforcement database, which has a maximum sentence of a year in prison. A hearing will be held Tuesday to determine his status.