A Suffolk County jury in New York could possibly decide on lesser charges for Michael Valva, a former New York cop on trial for the murder of his 8-year-old son, Thomas Valva.
On Tuesday, a judge ruled that the jury in Valva’s trial has the decision to charge Valva with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide, Newsday reports.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Valva is currently on trial for the murder of Thomas, who froze to death in 2020 after being forced to sleep in an unheated garage in their Long Island garage. The temperatures on the night in question had plummeted to 19 degrees. Thomas’ 10-year-old brother, Anthony, was also forced to sleep in the unheated garage.
Valva’s then-fiancée, Angela Pollina, 45, is a co-defendant in the case. Both defendants pleaded not guilty to murder and child endangerment charges. Pollina’s trial has not yet started.
Meanwhile, Valva, who had the option of taking the stand in his own defense this week, will not be doing so, Patch reports. On Tuesday, defense lawyer Anthony LaPinta rested the case.
Prosecutors told the jury during opening statements that Thomas and Anthony suffered years of abuse at the hands of their father, often arriving at school with bruises and scratching — and hungry.
“They were observed at school literally eating crumbs off the floor,” assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Laura Newcombe said.
On the day of his death, the victim’s body temperature was 76.1 degrees. Suffolk County’s chief medical examiner testified last month that Thomas died from hypothermia.
Valva’s attorney laid the blame at Pollina’s feet, saying she constantly told him he was being too lenient with the boys and that Valva was desperate to make things work. He painted her as the wicked stepmother.
“You are making it too comfortable for them,” she allegedly told Valva, according to attorney Anthony La Pinta. “Let them be uncomfortable. That will teach them to control themselves.”
Valva, La Pinta said during his opening statement, “never ever thought that either of his boys could die from being in that garage,” WCBS reported.
When Valva arrived at the hospital to see his son in January 2020, he had no emotion, paramedic Erin Lambert previously testified.
“There were no tears. There was no emotion,” Lambert said, recalling when the suspect saw his son in a bed at the hospital.
“Somebody, a staff member came into the room and asked him if he needed a drink, a chair, to make a phone call. He turned and said, ‘No, I’ve been in more stressful situations.’”
Closing arguments are expected next in the case. Check back for updates.
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[Featured image: Thomas Valva/Handout]
Additional reporting by Ellen Killoran and KC Wildmoon