The stepmother of an 8-year-old boy who froze to death in a Long Island garage was convicted Friday of second-degree murder just months after the boy’s father was sentenced to 25 years in jail.
Jurors in Suffolk County needed just six hours of deliberations to find Angela Pollina guilty on all counts she faced in connection with the child abuse death of young Thomas Valva, the son of a former NYPD officer. .
Thomas, who died of hypothermia after he and his autistic brother were forced to sleep on the garage floor of their Center Moriches home in sub-zero temperatures.
Pollina, also a former NYPD officer, was found guilty on one count of murder, as well as four lesser counts of child endangerment.
Thomas’s father, Michael Valva, was convicted last year on the same charges and is now serving a 25-year to life sentence.
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Suffolk prosecutors said video surveillance of the home showed Thomas and his older brother Anthony shivering inside the freezing garage two nights before the younger boy’s death, when the temperature dropped to 19 degrees.
Thomas died on January 17, 2020. His body temperature was 76.1 degrees when he arrived at Long Island Community Hospital, more than 20 degrees below normal.
“The cruelty that Thomas and his brother were forced to endure due to this defendant’s callous and selfish conduct is abhorrent, and fortunately, the jury clearly agreed,” District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement.
“His treatment of these children was nothing short of pure evil. This defendant will now face the consequences of her actions and experience her own imprisonment just as she forced these children to live imprisoned in a freezing garage. Unlike Thomas and her brother, Pollina deserves this punishment.
During the months before Thomas’ death, Pollina and the boy’s father exchanged text messages showing Pollina’s insistence that the children sleep in the garage and not be allowed to use the indoor bathrooms.
Surveillance video also showed that she saw Thomas being washed in cold water in the backyard and berated the boy’s father for yelling because the neighbors could hear. Two hours later, Thomas was pronounced dead from hypothermia.
Authorities said Thomas and his 10-year-old brother were special needs students who were so neglected that school administrators said they would come to class in dirty clothes and scavenge for food.