(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Gilberto Valle, a former New York City police officer accused of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women, broke down in tears in court Thursday as closing arguments in his case came wrapped up, CBS New York reports.
Jury deliberations began this afternoon.
Earlier, a prosecutor argued that the FBI had to stop Valle last year before he could go forward with a macabre scheme to abduct and cannibalize women, while Valle's lawyer dismissed the supposed plot as "no more real than an alien invasion" and closer to pornography than a real crime.
Valle was in the midst of a plot to "kidnap, torture, rape and commit other horrific acts" on at least six women he knew, including his wife, Assistant U.S. Attorney Hadassa Waxman told a Manhattan jury at Valle's kidnapping conspiracy trial. "The law does not require that we wait until he carries out his crime."
The defense claims Valle is being prosecuted for indulging in offensive, but harmless, fantasies fed by visits to fetish websites meant solely for role-play.
His attorney, Julia Gatto, started her closing by reading from a 2012 Valle e-mail saying, "I just have a world in my mind and in that world I am kidnapping women and selling them to people interested in buying them."
She also compared the Valle case to the infamous "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast in 1938 that, according to myth, caused some people to flee their homes.
Likewise, Valle's disturbing online interplay may have caused his wife to panic, leave their Queens apartment with their infant child and report him to the FBI. But, Gatto added, "His stories are no more real than the alien invasion. Gilberto Valle is accused of a crime he didn't commit."
Gatto called her client's chats with other men "Gil's porn" - a habit that destroyed his life - but not proof of conspiracy.
The defendant, wearing a dark suit and yellow tie, wept as his lawyer described how the case had "cost him everything," including his wife and "adorable baby."
But prosecutor Waxman argued the evidence shows that Valle "left the world of fantasy and entered the world of reality." The officer's actions were "no joke," she added. "It was not just sick entertainment."Lawyers for Valle, who also cried when his wife testified against him, presented evidence from witnesses that Valle did not have any of the tools of the torture he described in instant message chats and e-mails, and did not own an upstate home where he had suggested he could cook a victim.
On two occasions, jurors seemed unnerved when they were shown sadistic pornography including what appeared to be a staged video of a chained, naked woman screaming as the flame of a torch was put beneath her crotch.
At the end of her closing arguments, Gatto showed a picture of Valle in uniform, holding his baby daughter. The photo also caused Valle to break down in tears.
He faces the possibility of life in prison.