RIVERHEAD, Long Island (PIX11) — She’s accused of torturing her fiancé’s 8-year-old son to death, and on Tuesday, Angela Pollina took the stand in her own defense in her murder trial.
Her fiancé, Michael Valva, is an ex-NYPD cop who was found guilty late last year of fatally torturing his son Thomas by freezing him to death. In Tuesday’s testimony, Pollina admitted that while she was part of a culture of abuse, she was not responsible for Thomas Valva’s death. Instead, she tried to show that her fiancé was to blame.
Michael Valva, 43, was convicted of second-degree murder and child endangerment last November. Pollina faces the same charges in this case.
Those charges stem from the child’s death from hypothermia — he froze to death, according to the medical examiner.
At the time of his passing, the medical examiner concluded Thomas Valva’s body temperature was 76.1 degrees. He’d been forced to spend night after night on the bare floor of the garage of his home, in subfreezing temperatures, according to the medical examiner.
A jury last fall concluded that the boy’s father forced the child into those conditions that ultimately led to the child’s death. Valva is now serving 25 years to life in a prison near the Canadian border.
On the stand, Pollina, 45, said she was part of a punitive life for the boy, and his two brothers, who were also abused regularly.
“I was bad,” she testified, then referred to herself and her fiancé. “He put them in the garage, and I agreed. And it was a punishment. How I was with him, I took it out on the boys. It was evil and horrible. I took it out on them by putting them in the garage.”
On the morning of Jan. 17, 2020, she testified the boy’s father sprayed him with a hose in freezing temperatures outside, and then — against her instructions, she said — Michael Valva put the boy into a warm bath, prompting hypothermic shock.
“As I turned to look at him at this point, his eyes were closed,” she testified about the Thomas. “I called his name out. I called him again. I tapped him, and he didn’t answer me. I said, ‘Michael, he’s not answering me.’ [Michael] grabbed me and said, ‘He’s not breathing.’ I panicked, and I ran upstairs.”
She said that she’d climbed the stairs from the basement where she’d been to find the closest phone. She said she’d called 911 on Valva’s phone and then handed the phone to him so that a dispatcher could help him administer CPR.
All of Pollina’s testimony on Tuesday involved her attorney, Matt Touhy, questioning her while jurors looked on.
On Wednesday, Pollina faces prosecutors for cross-examination.