'Cannibal Cop' Trial Highlights Line Between Fantasy and Crime

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A 28-year-old New York City police officer is on trial this week on charges he conspired to kidnap, kill and eat women. Attorneys for the so-called "Cannibal Cop" say Gilberto Valle's online musings were simply fantasies, but federal prosecutors say his actions represented a real danger.

Several women who knew Valle testified Tuesday that they never felt threatened by him, but former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and Brooklyn Law School Professor I. Bennett Capers said that doesn’t mean that prosecutors are overreaching. That’s because Valle’s wife, 27-year-old Kathleen Mangan-Valle fled their Queens home with their 1-year-old daughter and contacted authorities after learning about her husband's Internet interests.

“Probably the person who knows him best is his wife. If she’s afraid, then it sort of communicates to the jurors that this is more than simply a fantasy in his head,” Capers said. “This was crossing the line into a real threat, a real problem.”

Valle remains jailed without bail on charges that could carry a life sentence.

WNYC’s Amy Eddings spoke to Capers Tuesday. 

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.