The government was expected to call Valle’s wife, Kathleen Mangan, as its first witness.
Before opening statements, U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe set strict parameters for Mangan’s testimony, saying she can tell a jury about discovering her husband’s morbid discussions but not about the couple’s confidential communications or about his mental condition.
Prosecutors said in court papers that Mangan fled their home on Sept. 10, 2012, believing he was planning to kidnap, rape, torture and murder her. She also discovered that he “had similarly heinous plans for women she knew and to whom she was close,” prosecutors wrote.
The defense has denied that Mangan was a potential victim. Valle had made clear that his wife “was unavailable for any kidnapping fantasy,” the defense papers said.
Valle, a baby-faced tabloid sensation known as the “Cannibal Cop,” is expected to take the stand to make the case that it was all role-playing fantasy played out on Internet sites like darkfetishnet.com.
The defense also is planning to show jurors the videotaped testimony of darkfetishnet.com co-founder Sergey Merenkov in which he describes the site as a “social media network.”
Merenkov called the site “a clone of Facebook, but it is oriented to people with fetishes that are not considered standard.”
Asked the most popular fetishes, Merenkov responds, “All sorts of asphxiation” and “peril cannibalism.”
Tiger Howard Devore, a psychologist and certified sex therapist who specializes in dealing with sexual dysfunction and fetishes, said the cannibalism fetish known as voreaphilia isn’t common.
“For most laymen, they’re going to think about it as cannibalism,” Devore told The Associated Press on Monday. “But what it really is, is an obsession about consuming the flesh of the other, and this can have a whole range of expressions. … It is mostly played out in fantasy, mostly played out in role-playing.”
There are well-known criminal extremes like Jeffrey Dahmer, who saved pieces of his victims’ body parts and ate the flesh, Devore said, though “the instances of this kind of violence are extremely rare.”