RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (PIX11) — A jury found Angela Pollina guilty on all charges Friday in the death of her ex-fiancé’s 8-year-old son, Thomas Valva.
It took a jury just over six hours of deliberation to reach the verdict. They ruled on one count of second-degree murder – a felony – and four counts of child endangerment, all misdemeanors. She was found guilty on all charges.
The boy died of hypothermia after he and his brother were forced to sleep on the floor of their home’s garage in subfreezing temperatures.
Thomas had lived in the home Pollina owned in Center Moriches. He and his then-10-year-old brother both have autism, and had incontinence and other physical challenges.
Pollina admitted in court that she had insisted to the boys’ father, Michael Valva, that his sons live in the garage of the home after repeated bathroom problems involving the boys. They’d been moved out months before Thomas died in January 2020.
Michael Valva, an ex-NYPD officer, was convicted last year on the same charges and is now serving 25 years to life in prison.
On the morning of Jan. 17, 2020, when it was 19 degrees outside and subfreezing in the garage, Michael Valva found that Thomas had soiled himself. The father took the boy to the back patio and hosed him down in the cold. He then took his son to a bathroom, where put Thomas in a warm shower, prosecutors said.
The medical examiner concluded that the boy died of hypothermia. The medical examiner testified that the rapid change from extreme cold to warmth may have provoked severe shock in the boy, killing him. At the time of Thomas’s death, his body temperature was 76.1 degrees, according to the medical examiner.
Pollina was present when the boy was in his hypothermic episode.
Pollina had testified in her own defense over the course of three days this week. She and her attorney had told jurors that she was only guilty of child endangerment. Pollina acknowledged on the stand that she’d been “evil” and “horrible” to her fiancé’s sons, but denied being responsible for Thomas’s death.
The jury ultimately sided with prosecutors, who’d argued that Pollina had fabricated her court testimony. They’d said that on the morning Thomas died, he was already going through the stages of hypothermia caused by actions Pollina had made about his living conditions months before.
Prosecutors said that Pollina and Michael Valva devised a fabricated account of the developments from that morning that was intended to take liability for the boy’s death off of them. As part of their plan, prosecutors said, Pollina deleted seven video files from her home’s extensive Nest camera surveillance system. Those files had recorded video information from periods of time in which Thomas was dying under her and Valva’s watch.
Pollina has been behind bars since her arrest in January 2020. Her incarceration will continue.