Former NYPD officer is found guilty of murdering his autistic son by making him sleep on frozen garage floor in middle of winter as punishment for wetting himself
Michael Valva, 43, was found guilty Friday of child endangerment and second-degree murder in the death of his minor son on Friday
Thomas Valva, 8, died on January 17, 2020, from hypothermia after sleeping on his dad’s Long Island garage floor – ME ruled his death a homicide
The father’s then-fiancée, Angela Pollina, 42, also faces child endangerment and second-degree murder counts and is awaiting trial
Friday’s verdict comes after a month of testimony, including by school officials that claimed Thomas and his 10-year-old brother Anthony would come to school with bruises
Michael Valva and faces a maximum of 25 years to life at sentencing which has been scheduled for Dec. 8
Thomas was one of six children in Valva and Pollina’s care, living at the home at the time of his death – Valva’s two sons and Pollina’s four children from prior relationships
A former New York City police officer has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his autistic son, who was forced to sleep overnight on the concrete floor of a freezing garage.
8-year-old Thomas Valva, died in January 2020. His father Michael Valva, 43, was convicted Friday on four counts of child endangerment on Friday and faces a maximum of 25 years to life at sentencing which has been scheduled for December 8.
Thomas according to the prosecution died after sleeping in the garage in the family’s Long Island located on Bittersweet Lane in Center Moriches as temperatures dropped under 20 degrees.
A medical examiner ruled the boy’s death a homicide and found that hypothermia was a major contributing factor.
‘While there is nothing that we can do to bring Thomas back, we are satisfied with the jury’s decision,’ Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said in a statement.
‘Michael Valva subjected his sons to horrific abuse, neglect, and cruelty. He will now pay for cutting short the life of a young, innocent, defenseless boy who had a lifetime ahead of him.’
Friday’s verdict came on the first day of deliberations after a month’s worth of testimony.
In a case that saw extensive delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, prosecutors said Thomas and his 10-year-old brother Anthony were both on the autism spectrum and were at times forced to sleep in the garage.
The boys spent 16 consecutive hours in the freezing garage leading up to the death of 8-year-old Thomas. Michael Valva did nothing to help his son as the boy died in front of him, instead he lied to police and first responders, prosecutors alleged.
Valva’s then fiancée, Angelina Pollina, 42, also faces child endangerment and second-degree murder counts.
Pollina is accused of participated in the abuse of the children allegedly, sprayed Thomas with cold water during the ordeal at the home in Center Moriches.
Pollina has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.
The child endangerment counts stemmed from the beating and starving of both boys.
Their teachers testified the boys came to school with bruises and often were so hungry they ate crumbs off the floor, according to media reports.
East Moriches Elementary School principal Edward Schneyer said that when suspicions about the child’s neglect were flagged to Michael Valva, he rebuffed the concerns.
As a result, the school started ‘flooding’ CPS with calls regarding the welfare of Thomas Valva, Schneyer said.
According to Schneyer Thomas and his older brother Anthony appeared fine when they first started school in 2017, but they later started to come into class looking ‘extremely emaciated.’
The young brothers would come into school feeling cold and hungry, and Thomas would sometimes come to lessons with bruises and cuts on his face.
Anthony, who was 10 at the time, also showed up to school soaked in urine on one occasion.
The children’s conditions would temporarily improve every time the school filed a new CPS complaint, but the changes were only short-lived, Schneyer said.
Justyna Zubko-Valva, Thomas’ mother, said she had provided the school with evidence of alleged abuse at the hands of his father for two years. The evidence ranged from audio recordings to medical records.
She has recently been given the go-ahead to sue child protective services and school officials for $200million, a judge ruled.
The father was awarded custody of his two sons – both autistic – in 2017, but Zubko-Valva claims that Thomas’ school did nothing about her abuse allegations for a full year after that.
She claims she gave CPS a flash drive with 320 files of evidence of abuse, which included transcripts of Valva teaching his sons to repeat ‘mommy is mean,’ ‘I don’t want to stay with mommy,’ ‘I don’t love mommy.’
Zubko-Valva said that Valva told CPS that she was the abusive parent, that she beat the kids and poisoned them with ‘brown medicine.’
She accused CPS of lying about their findings and fabricated evidence to support the father’s accusations.
Thomas’ mother said that CPS found that he looked ’emaciated,’ but that they closed their investigation into Valva 10 days before their son died.
Thomas was one of six children in Valva and Pollina’s care who were living at the home at the time the little boy died. Valva’s two sons and Pollina’s four children from prior relationships.
With the death of Thomas Valva, his brother Anthony has since been placed in the custody of their mother while Pollina’s children were placed in the custody of their biological fathers.
On the day of Thomas’ death in 2020, authorities were dispatched to the home where the boy had lived around 9.40am after his father said the boy had fallen in the driveway and lost consciousness while running for the school bus.
Responding officers found Valva performing CPR on Thomas in the basement.
The little boy was rushed to Long Island Community Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to police, cameras and microphones that had been set up in Mike Valva’s home captured audio of him and Angela taunting Thomas as he froze to death.
The audio files allegedly recorded the couple discussing the fact that Thomas was suffering from hypothermia, had been washed with cold water, couldn’t walk, and was ‘face-planting’ on the concrete.
They laughed as they said ‘he’s hypothermic’ and that he had ‘face-planted’ the floor.
Pollina remarked: ‘You know why he’s falling?’.
Valva replied: ‘Because he’s cold…. boo f*****g hoo’.
Following his death, Thomas’ brothers were placed in the custody of their mother. Pollina’s daughters were placed in the custody of their biological fathers.