A former NYPD officer whose 8-year-old autistic son froze to death in a Long Island garage was sentenced to 25 years to life on Thursday, December 8, a month after a jury found him guilty of murder and child endangerment.
The former police officer Michael Valva will get a bed, pillow and heat while he is behind bars, which is more than his son Tommy had in January 2020 during a cold night in his garage when Valva and his girlfriend forced the boy to sleep in an unheated garage and then hosed the child down with freezing water taking the little boy’s body temperature below 76 degrees.
Prosecutors said home video surveillance showed Thomas and his older brother Anthony shivering inside the bitterly cold garage two nights before the younger boy’s death, when the temperature dropped to a bone-chilling 19 degrees.
Valva was also convicted of child endangerment as a result of abuse suffered by Thomas’ autistic brother, Anthony.
A tearful Valva read a statement to Judge William Condon before being sentenced.
“How did all of us as a community allow this to happen?” The judge, who was emotional asked out loud to the Riverhead courtroom.
“I don’t think you intended to kill Thomas, not at all,” he said to Valva, who was still crying.
“But there is no getting around that Thomas and Anthony lived their lives in constant duress in the place they should have felt safest, their own home.
“An 8-year-old boy who right now should be getting excited for Christmas is dead, I speak for everybody out there: We can never let this happen again.”
The jury consisting of Eight women and four men found Valva guilty of murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in early November after seven hours of deliberations. The emotional trial lasted five weeks.
The boy’s horrific death was just the culmination of years of relentless abuse suffered by the boy and his brother, as detailed during Valva’s murder trial in Riverhead, New York.
Thomas and his 10-year-old brother were both special-needs students who were so badly neglected that their school administrators said they would arrive for class in soiled clothing and dig through the garbage for food.
Officials said that the children were bruised, starved and forced to sleep on dog pads.
Prosecutors said Valva and his ex-fiancée, Angela Pollina, lied to police after Valva’s 911 call, telling them that Tommy fell while getting on a school bus.
All the while, the boy and his brother lived under abusive corporal punishment outlined in graphic detail by their father himself.
“I will beat them until they bleed,” Valva once texted Pollina about the boys, according to a prosecutor. “It is the only thing that works.”
Pollina’s own separate trial begins in February.