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New York cop convicted in cannibalism plot

NEW YORK — Police Officer Gilberto Valle’s lawyers said he was just spinning sick and twisted fantasies for his own pleasure when he chatted online about abducting, roasting, and eating women. A jury, though, decided he was deadly serious.

Valle, 28, was convicted Tuesday of conspiracy in a macabre case that opened a window on a shocking Internet world of cannibalism fetishists. He could get life in prison at sentencing June 19 but is likely to face much less.

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His lawyers branded the outcome a ‘‘thought prosecution’’ that sets a dangerous precedent, while federal prosecutors said the verdict proved that Valle crossed the line from fantasy to reality and was genuinely bent on committing ‘‘grotesque crimes.’’

Valle slumped in his chair, dropped his head, and wept when the verdict in what the tabloids dubbed the ‘‘Cannibal Cop’’ trial was announced after more than two days of deliberations: guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and guilty of illegally using a police database.

The jurors left the courthouse without comment. Most either did not immediately respond to e-mails and phone messages, or declined to discuss the case.

Prosecutors said Valle plotted to abduct, torture, and cannibalize six women he knew, including his wife. Although none of the women were ever harmed — and only his wife discovered his schemes — prosecutors said he took concrete steps to carry out his plot, including looking up potential targets on a restricted law enforcement database.

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