Cop convicted in cannibalism plot
NEW YORK (AP) — 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.
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 did not immediately respond to emails and phone messages or declined to discuss the case.
Valle’s mother, Elizabeth, shook her head.
Infant victim of Chicago violence
CHICAGO (AP) — A 6-month old girl became the latest innocent victim of Chicago gang violence when a gunman ambushed her father while he was changing her diaper along a South Side street and unloaded round after round into the two of them.
Jonylah Watkins died at a hospital Tuesday after surgeons did what they could to repair the damage from the five bullets that tore through her body during Monday’s attack in Woodlawn. Her father, Jonathan Watkins, was in serious but stable condition Tuesday after receiving treatment for wounds to his buttocks and side and a graze to his face, police said.
Jonathan Watkins is a gang member with a long criminal history — including a three-year prison sentence on a weapons charge— and there is little doubt he was the target of the attack, Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said at a news conference Tuesday hours after the infant died. Watkins was standing in his car door changing his daughter’s diaper around lunchtime when the gunman approached and opened fire.
New cyber medal being reviewed
WASHINGTON (AP) — The military has stopped production of a new medal for remote warfare troops — drone operators and cyber warfighters — as it considers complaints from veterans and lawmakers over the award, which was ranked higher than traditional combat medals like the Purple Heart.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of the Distinguished Warfare Medal, which was to be awarded to troops who operate drones and use other technological skills to fight America’s wars from afar.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said Tuesday that Hagel ordered another look in light of concerns by lawmakers and veterans groups over the fact that the new medal was ranked above medals for those who served on the front line in harm’s way, such as the Purple Heart given to wounded troops.
Dow has eighth straight advance
NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow Jones industrial average logged its longest winning streak in two years — barely.
A tiny gain gave the Dow its eighth straight increase Tuesday, long enough to match its longest series of gains since February 2011.
The Dow rose 2.77 points, or 0.02 percent, to 14,450.06, having wavered between small gains and losses for most of the day. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 ended down 3.74 points, or 0.2 percent, at 1,552.48. The Nasdaq composite dropped 10.55 points, or 0.32 percent, to 3,242.32
Stocks have surged this year as investors became encouraged by a recovery in the housing market and a pickup in hiring. Strong corporate earnings and continuing economic stimulus from the Federal Reserve are also supporting demand for stocks.
The Dow has gained 10.3 percent so far in 2013, and last week it surpassed its previous all-time high of 14,164.53. The S&P 500 has risen 8.9 percent this year and is less than 1 percentage point away from its record close of 1,565.15 set in October 2007.
David Bianco, chief U.S. equity strategist at Deutsche Bank, said the S&P 500 index will likely maintain its momentum in the coming weeks and surpass its all-time high. Strong first-quarter corporate earnings reports could also push the market higher.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the market has a typical five percent pullback in the summer,” said Bianco. “But I think we go higher before that happens.”
The last significant downturn for stocks started before the Presidential elections in November, when the Dow fell 8 percent between Oct. 5 and Nov. 15 on concern that a divided government wouldn’t be able to reach a budget deal to stop the U.S. going over the “fiscal cliff” of sweeping tax hikes and deep spending cuts.
Stocks haven’t had a correction, typically defined as a decline of between 10 and 20 percent, since November 2011. That sell-off came after talks on cutting the U.S. deficit broke down in Washington.
Merck was the biggest gainer in the Dow, advancing $1.38, or 3.2 percent, to $45.04 after the drugmaker said a data safety monitoring board recommended that a study of its cholesterol drug Vytorin should continue.
Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at Rockwell Global Capital, was also among those saying investors should expect a pause in the market’s advance.
“Nothing goes up forever,” Cardillo said. “We will be headed for a correction somewhere along the line.”
Markets were mixed in Europe. Italy easily sold €7.75 billion ($10 billion) in 12-month bonds, though at slightly higher interest rates. It was the first test of market sentiment since Fitch downgraded the country’s credit rating on Friday due to political uncertainty there.
The Dow’s biggest wobble this year came on Feb. 25, when it lost 1.6 percent after inconclusive results from Italian elections pushed the country toward political gridlock, threatening its ability to follow through on unpopular budget cuts demanded by its European neighbors. That gave investors a flashback to last spring, when a flare-up in Europe’s debt crisis sent markets spiraling lower in the U.S. and Europe.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves inversely to its price, fell to 2.02 percent from 2.06 percent.
Among stocks making big moves:
— Yum Brands Inc. rose 89 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $68.73 after the owner of KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell announced a smaller-than-expected drop in its sales in China for the months of January and February following a food scare over its chicken suppliers.