The “Cannibal Cop” and Pre-emptive Prosecution

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Federal Courthouse in Manhattan where the trial of New York Police Department officer Gilberto Valle, accused of conspiring to kidnap women that he planned to cook and eat, began February 25, 2013.

Robert Kolker discusses the “cannibal cop” case and looks at whether it’s possible—or even legal—to convict people for crimes they haven’t even committed yet. His article “A Dangerous Mind,” in the January 13 issue of New York magazine, is about Gilberto Valle, who was arrested in New York on a charge of conspiracy to kidnap. Details from his bail hearings told the story of a husband secretly plotting to kidnap and kill, cook, and eat several women, including his own wife. The trial seemed to be two different cases—the actual charge against Valle (conspiracy to kidnap) and the question of what Valle might do in the future if he were allowed to go free.