Accused 'cannibal cop' won't testify at trial - FOX 13 News

Defense rests at 'cannibal cop' trial

Posted: Updated:

By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER | AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- The defense team for a police officer accused of plotting to abduct, torture and eat women rested its case Tuesday after the officer told the judge he didn't want to testify.

At the trial, a Russian man who operates a fetish website where prosecutors say the police officer met others interested in killing and cooking women said sexual asphyxiation, sex with dead bodies and cannibalism are popular subjects among its users but they generally know how to draw the line between fantasy and reality.

The testimony by Sergey Merenkov on Tuesday opened the defense portion presentation at the two-week trial of Officer Gilberto Valle. It came after defense lawyers notified the judge that Valle will not take the witness stand to rebut government claims that he conspired to kidnap, rape, kill and eat women he knew, including his wife.

A hearing on jury instructions is set for Wednesday. Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday.

In testimony recorded on Feb. 19 after Merenkov refused to travel to New York to testify, the Moscow resident explained how he and partners started a website in 2010 to create a Facebook-like environment for people with kinky fantasies.

"We saw a niche in the market. So we decided to jump in and create the website for these people that have similar interests," he said.

Merenkov called sexual asphyxiation the "main fetish" but said cannibalism and sex with dead people also were popular on the website, which is "oriented to people with fetishes that are not considered to be standard."

Merenkov spoke Russian as he answered questions from a defense lawyer and, later, a prosecutor. Sitting in a leather desk chair and wearing a black T-shirt, he leaned back and put his hands behind his head. He said his primary job is to distribute Spanish ice cream in Moscow.

He testified that the majority of the website's 4,500 active users among 38,000 members -- 25 percent of whom he estimates to be women -- are in the United States or Europe.

The Moscow resident said people commonly engage in role-play on the site, such as when a woman poses as a witch and a mob of 10 or more angry villagers prepare to hang her.

"The girl could write, `I'm shivering from fright. They're pulling me to the noose. I can feel the rope already on my neck,"' he testified.

On cross examination by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson, Merenkov said he did not know anything about Valle when the FBI contacted him last fall. He said he tried to find communications involving Valle but they apparently were lost when Valle quit the website in September.

"Who was it that actually deleted Mr. Valle's account? Was it you or was it Mr. Valle?" Jackson asked.

"It was not me for sure," Merenkov answered. "I think it was him."

He said the website now warns its members not to post pictures from other social media sites, a rule instituted on Sept. 14 after complaints.

A prosecutor asked him if some subjects discussed on the website would be illegal if they were carried out, such as sex with dead bodies.

Yes, but reality is one thing and fantasy is completely a different thing," he responded.

Merenkov's testimony was aimed at supporting defense arguments that Valle was role-playing when he spoke in dramatic details with others on the Internet about killing and cooking women.

The government has conceded that Valle never met the purported Internet co-conspirators and that no women were harmed.

Valle, 28, was arrested in October after his wife discovered the chats on his computer and fled their home, turning a computer over to the FBI in Reno, Nev. He was charged with conspiring to kidnap, kill and eat women, which carries the potential for a life sentence. He also faces a lesser charge that he illegally accessed a national crime database to research kidnap targets.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    NYPD Twitter hashtag backfires

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 9:14 PM EDT2014-04-23 01:14:35 GMT
    An NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
    An NYPD plan intended to better connect with the community seems to have backfired a bit. The police department asked its twitter followers to share pictures of themselves with New York City police officers using the hashtag "myNYPD." Some did share nice pictures, but others not so much.Some of the first pictures posted showed regular citizens standing with very friendly looking police officers.
  • Airbnb fights NY attorney general's subpoena

    Airbnb fights NY attorney general's subpoena

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 7:06 PM EDT2014-04-22 23:06:24 GMT
    Renting out someone's apartment is an easy way to get an inexpensive place to stay if you're a tourist, and cheaper and more convenient than most hotels. But now the government is stepping in and trying to get a handle on a booming business that may not be playing by the rules. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is squaring off in court with multi-million dollar Internet company Airbnb.
    Renting out someone's apartment is an easy way to get an inexpensive place to stay if you're a tourist, and cheaper and more convenient than most hotels. But now the government is stepping in and trying to get a handle on a booming business that may not be playing by the rules. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is squaring off in court with multi-million dollar Internet company Airbnb.
  • Tavern on the Green to reopen with new owners, look, menu

    Tavern on the Green to reopen with new owners, look, menu

    Tuesday, April 22 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-04-22 22:06:28 GMT
    The new Tavern on the Green is all about the details. From the sheep's head on the fireplace (an ode to Sheep Meadow across the way) to the gold leaf trim in the dining room, everything is a reminder that you're sitting in Central Park. Owner Jim Caiola and his life partner spent the last two years and $20 million redoing the inside of the iconic restaurant after it went bankrupt in 2009.The old-fashioned Crystal Room is gone but now there is a more modern-looking glass wall.
    The new Tavern on the Green is all about the details. From the sheep's head on the fireplace (an ode to Sheep Meadow across the way) to the gold leaf trim in the dining room, everything is a reminder that you're sitting in Central Park. Owner Jim Caiola and his life partner spent the last two years and $20 million redoing the inside of the iconic restaurant after it went bankrupt in 2009.The old-fashioned Crystal Room is gone but now there is a more modern-looking glass wall.
Powered by WorldNow

FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
3213 West Kennedy Blvd.
Tampa, Florida 33609
Main: (813) 876-1313
Newsroom: (813) 870-9630
Fax: (813) 871-3135

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Ad Choices