Thomas Valva Snapshot

Attorneys Battle During Closing Arguments in Ex-cop Michael Valva Trial, Accused of Leaving Autistic Son to Die in Freezing Garage

A Suffolk County jury in New York is deliberating in connection with the murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva, whose ex-cop father stands accused of killing him.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Michael 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 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.

During closing arguments this week, Valva’s defense lawyer, Anthony LaPinta, reiterated that Valva never wanted his son to die. Instead, according to LaPinta, Valva tried to save Thomas, Newsday reports.

Meanwhile, Assistant District Attorney Kerriann Kelly reminded the court that Valva and Pollina started abusing the children in 2017 when he was granted full custody of his sons.

Valva’s other defense lawyer, John LoTurco, told the court that despite his “deficiencies” as a father, Valva wanted his son to live and doesn’t deserve a murder conviction.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Michael Valva never wanted Thomas to die,” LoTurco told the jury. “Michael Valva did not want Thomas to die despite his horrible words, despite his parental deficiencies. Michael loved Thomas.”

Michael Valva and Angela Pollina/Suffolk County Police Department

Prosecutors told the jury during opening statements that Thomas and Anthony often arrived 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.

LaPinta 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 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.’”

Check back for updates.

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[Featured image: Thomas Valva/Handout]