A former New York cop accused of torturing his 8-year-old son to death cried in court Tuesday listening to the 911 call he placed the the boy died.
Thomas Valva died on January 17, 2020, after he was left in an unheated garage overnight at temperatures outside reached 19 degrees, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
His father, Michael Valva, and Valva’s fiancee Angela Pollina were each charged with second degree murder and endangering the welfare of a child.
At Tuesday’s pre-trial hearing, prosecutors played Valva’s 911 call, in which he told a dispatcher his son “fell down and banged his head” and “stopped breathing” while running for the school bus, the New York Post reported.
“I don’t know if he’s breathing or not … His heart stopped. He banged his head pretty good,” Valva said.
At one point, Valva asked the dispatcher if it was normal for the stomach to fill with air during CPR.
“His belly is filling up, like it’s filling up with air,” he said.
Still on the phone when first responders arrived, he asked for help, repeating that Thomas “banged his head.
Valva repeatedly wiped tears from his eyes as the recording played. His attorney, John LoTurco, told reporters it was the “first time” he and Pollina heard that call and “was an emotional moment for him and I imagine for Angela as well.”
An autopsy determined that Thomas Valva died from hypothermia, not banging his head.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, surveillance cameras set up in the garage, where Thomas and two brothers were often sent for punishment. Two days before his death, video showed him “shaking in the freezing cold air and clearly exhibiting signs of his need to use the bathroom in 19 degree weather,” Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said at a previous hearing.
Soon after, Valva sent a message to Pollina commenting about Thomas’s apparent need for a bathroom, which he didn’t have access to in the garage.
“Geez it seems like he has to go, too bad he doesn’t have a bathroom,” Valva said in a text message, according to prosecutors.
Newcombe also said the boys often showed up at school hungry and dressed poorly, particularly in cold weather.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Thomas’s mother Justine Zubka-Valvo said that she hadn’t seen her three sons in two years before Thomas died, despite numerous attempts to regain custody and report her suspicions of abuse. She told CrimeOnline that when she was reunited with her surviving sons after his death, they were ravenous. The mother has been granted temporary custody of the two boys.
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[Featured image: Thomas Valva/handout]