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Admittedly ‘evil’ stepmom cries at murder trial over freezing garage death of ex-NYPD officer’s 8-year-old son with autism

Angela Pollina, Michael Valva

Angela Pollina, Michael Valva (Images via Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office)

Months after her former NYPD police officer fiance was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for murdering his 8-year-old son Thomas Valva, a Long Island stepmother testified at her own trial that she was “evil” but not a killer.

Angela Pollina, now 45 and the sole defense witness in the case, cried on the stand as she told jurors “I was evil,” Patch reported at length on her testimony.

Thomas Valva, who had autism, froze to death after he was hosed down with water and forced to sleep in the garage of his Long Island home in the middle of winter more than three years ago. For that, a separate panel of jurors in Suffolk County found former NYPD officer Michael Valva guilty of murder in November 2022. But Pollina asserted on the witness stand Tuesday that her ex is solely responsible for the murder.

Prosecutors say the former couple forced Thomas Valva and his 10-year-old brother Anthony Valva, who also has autism, to sleep in a garage during the winter. Pollina did not dispute that the two children were forced to sleep in the garage, but she insisted that Michael Valva’s use of a hose to clean feces off of Thomas Valva is what directly led to the boy’s death.

According to her reported testimony, Pollina claimed she was taking care of her three daughters and getting them ready for school on the morning of Jan. 17, 2020.

The defendant reportedly recalled Michael Valva screaming that Thomas Valva had soiled himself, his pants “full of poop.” She said she was embarrassed and upset that her ex was screaming loud enough for neighbors to hear, and she claimed to be “shocked” by what she witnessed Michael Valva do to the victim.

“Michael put down the hose. I just shook my head. I said, ‘what the f—,'” Pollina reportedly said. “I was shocked by what I saw.”

The defendant reportedly said Michael Valva later stormed in from the garage and claimed the victim fell on the concrete floor.

Second-degree murder and child endangerment charges were issued against both defendants in Jan. 2020, days after Thomas Valva was pronounced dead at Long Island Community Hospital on Jan. 20.

Medical professionals determined that the victim died of cardiac arrest brought on by hypothermia, as Thomas’ body temperature was reportedly only 76 degrees when he arrived at the hospital.

Michael Valva’s initial attempts to portray his son’s death as an accident were not persuasive. After his conviction by a jury of his peers, he cried and admitted he neglected and abused his sons, killing one of them.

“I am truly sorry, I am ashamed, I am heartbroken and grief stricken standing before you having contributed to the death of my son Thomas. I loved Thomas with all my heart,” said Valva. “My actions were neglectful and abusive to my boys, resulting in the tragic death of Thomas. I lost focus on how to be a good father. I was so wrong and it cost Thomas his life.”

Angela Pollina’s defense lawyer Matthew Tuohy has repeatedly asserted that Michael Valva is the murderer, not his client.

As part of the defense case, Tuohy reportedly emphasized that Pollina did not believe the victim was in “immediate danger” after the abuse. The lawyer said she brought Thomas Valva blankets and a heater.

The defendant reportedly described that fateful day as a “hectic morning” and claimed she believed Michael Valva was going to care for Thomas Valva after what looked to her “like a typical fall.”

“[Michael Valva] did it. He committed the acts. And she tried to help the boy,” Pollina’s lawyer reportedly summed up the defense case.

Pollina was expected to face cross-examination Wednesday.

Jail records say that Pollina remains in the custody at the Suffolk County Correctional Facility.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.