Prosecutors also had wanted to present up to 34 exhibits of even more ghastly images found on Valle’s computer depicting women being tortured, dead bodies and body parts. The photos included a picture of a dead body with the feet cut off — an image Valle’s wife testified she saw when she went to one of his favorite sites and discovered why he stayed up late online.
But U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe ruled they were not admissible because they were automatically stored in cache files on Valle’s computer. “What we don’t have is proof that he ever saw the images here,” he said at the start of the second week of the trial.
But the judge permitted the screenshots of Valle’s Internet searches about cannibalism. Also admitted was evidence the officer looked up articles written about the rape and murder of a young woman and others about a 15-year-old girl who was kidnapped and murdered in California.
The browsing history also showed that an article titled “Cannibalism can be addictive, expert says” and Facebook pages of alleged targets were viewed.
Valle, 28, has been held without bail since his October arrest. Throughout the trial, which began last week, his lawyers have attacked government evidence as nothing more than the reflection of a man engaging in extreme sexual fantasies with like-minded people around the world. The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and that no women were harmed.
Jurors have heard testimony from Valle’s estranged wife and from former classmates and other women who said they knew Valle on a casual basis and never considered him dangerous. Their testimony was followed by evidence that all of them were the subjects of emails and chats describing how they could be snatched away and eaten.
The government was to conclude its case on Monday. The defense was expected to begin its case by playing the videotaped deposition of the Russian operator of a fetish website that Valle frequented.