New York: The wife of a New York City police officer on trial on charges that he conspired to kidnap, torture, kill and eat women objected to a defence lawyer`s characterization of what she saw on her husband`s computer as pornography.
"It wasn`t porn. That was dead people," 27-year-old Kathleen Mangan-Valle told defence attorney Julia Gatto yesterday in an emotion-packed opening day of testimony that took a federal court jury in Manhattan into some of the darkest corners of sexually driven activity on the Internet. "I don`t know why you keep calling that stuff porn."
The testimony came soon after a prosecutor insisted that Gilberto Valle was intent on conspiring to kidnap, kill and cook women he knew, including his wife. Gatto told jurors the 28-year-old officer wanted only to share extreme sexual fantasies on the Internet with like-minded people, some of the 38,000 registered to a website that caters to those interested in asphyxiation and cannibalism.
At times speaking through sobs and twice crying so hard that the judge ordered breaks, Mangan-Valle described coming across grisly photographs last summer on a website that was a regular stop for Valle, the baby-faced man she met in October 2009 through an Internet dating service.
Gatto tried to soften the image of her client by showing jurors pictures of a uniformed Valle and the couple`s 1-year-old daughter, a moment that caused the wife on the witness stand and eventually the officer at the defence table 30 feet away to cry out amid sobs.
She asked Mangan-Valle about good times with friends the couple had shared and their wedding last June. "The wedding was nice. The marriage was not," Mangan-Valle said.
Mangan-Valle made clear there were no mixed emotions when she told Gatto why she did not agree to speak with defence attorneys prior to the trial.
"You`re representing the man who wants to kill me. No, I don`t want to talk to you," she said.
A prosecutor, Hadassa Waxman, had asked her earlier to describe what she found after she put a tracking device on a computer used by her husband to see what websites he visited and what he wrote to others in emails and instant chats. She said she learnt she was a target.
"I was going to be tied up by my feet and my throat slit and they would have fun watching the blood gush out of me because I was young," she said.