Accused "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle teared up in court Tuesday as defense attorneys played a video tour of the "dark fetish" website that got him in trouble and then rested their case after Valle told the judge he had decided not to testify.
"It started bringing the experience back to him," defense attorney Robert Baum said of Valle's emotional reaction. "It's the knowledge that we're finally coming to a conclusion and his fate is in the jury's hands. That's a huge weight for someone to bear."
Valle, 28, a six-year NYPD veteran, is charged with conspiring to kidnap, abuse and eat women in Internet chats with three men he met on the kinky "dark fetish" site, and with misusing a police database. He was turned in when his wife discovered his online activity, but is not accused of actually hurting anyone.
Defense attorneys say Valle was role-playing in the chats because it turned him on, and he never intended to execute any plots. He has been held in jail without bail since his arrest and was suspended by the NYPD in December. The trial started Feb. 25, and closing arguments are expected Thursday.
After six days of prosecution evidence, including detailed examinations of Valle's kidnap-themed chats and testimony from six women he allegedly targeted, the defense was expected to present testimony from a psychiatrist who diagnosed Valle with a sexual role-playing disorder called "paraphilia" and possibly from Valle himself.
But Baum said the defense concluded that the allegedly criminal chats were so riddled with fictional bluster that the jury didn't need to hear from Valle.
"There was no reason for him to testify other than to say 'I didn't do it, I didn't mean it,' and the jury already knew that," Baum said.
Earlier Tuesday, the defense played a videotaped deposition from Sergei Merenkov, webmaster of the Russian "dark fetish" website, who described the site as a Facebook for sexual fetishists.
Merenkov, 34, who spoke from Moscow through a translator, said his main job is marketing Spanish ice cream in Russia, but he founded the website in 2010 as a sideline. It has about 4,400 active users, 70 percent from the United States, and 25 percent of them women.
He said it was lightly monitored and he had no way of knowing whether users followed its "fantasy only" guidelines in the real world. "Rules are rules," Merenkov said. "There's always a chance people may not play by the rules."