New York - An FBI agent says a New York police officer accused of conspiring with others on the internet to kill and eat women was co-operative and willing to help the agency catch dangerous people on the internet when he was arrested in October.
Agent Anthony Foto told a Manhattan federal court jury on Friday that Officer Gilberto Valle said he was willing to help the FBI distinguish between those individuals on a sexual fetish website who were real threats and those only involved in role play.
Valle, who has been jailed without bail since his arrest, has maintained throughout that he was only engaging in kinky internet fantasies and was not going to act on them.
Throughout the trial, which began on Monday, Valle's lawyers have attacked government evidence as nothing more than fantasy. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported internet co-conspirators and that no women were harmed.
Foto said the officer admitted that his online passion had consumed him, ruining his personal life.
Valle "claimed he did not enjoy it and he did not know why he was doing it", the agent said.
Government winding down case
Under interrogation, Valle lamented that his chats and emails with others on the internet about cannibalism were leaving him exhausted and uninterested in sex with his wife.
Foto testified Valle acknowledged that his fetish of kidnapping, killing and eating women wasn't satisfying and he "claimed he would not have gone through with it".
The testimony came as the government winds down its case against the 28-year-old officer.
The trial's first week concluded on Friday afternoon. Jurors were due back on Monday.
The government called Foto on Friday to recount the arrest and initial interview of Valle late last year on kidnapping conspiracy charges.
When agents arrived to pick up Valle at his Queens home and told him to stay calm and everything would be fine, Valle responded: "I don't think so," the agent said.
The agent said that when he asked Valle why he thought he was being arrested, the officer said he believed it was for conspiracy to commit murder or attempted murder. But Foto later conceded that Valle made the remark an hour into an interview that lasted several hours.
On cross-examination, defence attorney Robert Baum drew the jury's attention to moments when the FBI tricked his client, including when the FBI told him he had been under investigation for more than a year.
"That was a lie, right? Baum asked.
"Of course," Foto responded, acknowledging that Valle had been under investigation for only a few weeks. He said the ruse was an investigative technique aimed at getting the defendant to speak.
After the testimony, US District Judge Paul Gardephe sent the jury home for the day. He spent the afternoon hearing proposed testimony from an FBI expert who studied Valle's computer history, finding numerous gruesome images and some videos.
Defence lawyers are opposing the presentation of as many as 34 ghastly exhibits of images, including women being tortured, dead bodies and body parts.
Gardephe put off a ruling on Friday on whether jurors would see the pictures, which defence lawyers say may have been saved automatically without him ever seeing them when he went on certain websites.
The government says the exhibits include a picture of a dead body with feet unattached, an image Valle's wife testified she saw when she went to one of his favourite sites and discovered why he stayed up late online.
Jurors have heard testimony from Valle's estranged wife and from former classmates and other women who testified they knew Valle on a casual basis and never considered him dangerous. Their testimony was followed by evidence that all of them were the subjects of e-mails and chats describing how they could be snatched away and eaten.