Former NYPD Officer Convicted Of Killing 8YO Son, Forced Him To Sleep In Freezing Garage
It has been three years since former NYPD officer Michael Valva and then-fiancée Angela Pollina were accused of forcing his 8-year-old son to sleep in a freezing garage. Finally, justice has been served.
Valva was convicted Friday on five charges, including second-degree murder, PEOPLE reported.
A Suffolk County, New York, the jury unanimously found him guilty after deliberating for nearly seven hours, The New York Times reported. His son, Thomas Valva, died in Jan. 2020.
The child was on the autism spectrum and died of hypothermia after his father made him sleep in a freezing garage on a 19-degree night.
Michael, 43, was also convicted on four counts of child endangerment amid the six-week trial. He faces 15 to 25 years to life in prison.
He will be sentenced on Dec. 8, ABC 7 reported.
Valva's attorney John LoTurco released a statement saying: "We are disappointed but understand the jury's verdict. This case was heartbreaking and tragic and was a tsunami of emotions. The competing narratives between our defense that our client deeply loved his son Thomas despite his obvious parental deficiencies, versus the prosecution's portrayal that Michael Valva was a highly abusive and depravedly indifferent father, created a dramatic backdrop to the seven-week trial."
Adding that they "respect the juror's decision," however, LoTurco plans to file a motion to vacate the verdict on the second-degree murder charge due to insufficient evidence. He will also file an appeal.
LoTurco tried to get his client a lesser charge of criminal negligence and homicide, claiming that his the former officer's then-fiancée, Angela Pollina, who was at the home at the time of Thomas' death, was to blame. He said that his client tried to save Thomas' life.
"It was clear from all of the evidence, substantial evidence, that she was the dictator of discipline in that household, that she controlled not only Michael, but she also had a lover in that household that lived with her," LoTurco said in court.
They also argued that it was Pollina's idea to banish the boys to the garage when they had bathroom accidents, The Times reported that the couple had forced Thomas and his autistic 10-year-old brother Anthony to sleep in the garage multiple times for months.
After one such accident, Michael sent a text to Pollina, saying, "Ok, I'll beat them up again. Talking don't work. Maybe a bloody face will."
Thomas' mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, has filed a $200 million civil lawsuit against Michael, Pollina, and several local officials.
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