At the Riverhead courthouse Wednesday, Angela Pollina admitted that she agreed with Michael Valva in 2020 to exile 8-year-old Thomas Valva and his brother to the garage on the night before Thomas died from hypothermia, under cross-examination at her murder trial. She continued to try to blame the ex-NYPD officer for his son's death. NewsdayTV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/James Carbone; File Footage; Photo Credit: Justyna Zubko-Valva; Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Angela Pollina, testifying at her murder trial Wednesday, denied she knew 8-year-old Thomas Valva was suffering from hypothermia on the morning he died despite the prosecution’s audio recording of Pollina acknowledging that Thomas couldn’t walk and was “hypothermic.”

In a series of testy exchanges with veteran prosecutor Kerriann Kelly during a lengthy cross-examination, the Center Moriches mother of three claimed that she used the term hypothermic simply as a description for cold, and denied that Thomas, the son of her ex-fiance, Michael Valva, was struggling to walk. Instead, Pollina said on the witness stand that Thomas was “alert” and she didn’t perceive him to be in danger that morning. 

“I’m not a doctor,” said Pollina, who took the stand for a second day and testified with little emotion. “He didn’t appear at that time to be in any danger.”

Kelly noted that Pollina had pronounced the boy to be hypothermic, or freezing, when her daughter saw Thomas and asked why he couldn’t walk at 8:41 a.m. — an hour before Valva called 911. 


  • In her second day of testimony, Angela Pollina denied she knew 8-year-old Thomas Valva was suffering from hypothermia the morning he died.
  • Pollina is taking the witness stand in her own defense at the trial, in which she is charged with murder and child endangerment. Thomas and his brother Anthony were made to sleep in a freezing garage the night before Thomas died.
  • Pollina, in her testimony, tried to distance herself from the actions of Michael Valva, her onetime fiance, who is serving 25 years to life in prison for the killing of his son.

She asked: “Did you ever tell those first responders Thomas was hypothermic?”

“No, I did not,” said Pollina.

“And you never said, ‘It’s freezing, let’s bring those boys inside?’” Kelly asked.

“No; he was taking care of his kids,” Pollina said of Valva.

Undated photograph of Thomas Valva

Undated photograph of Thomas Valva Credit: Courtesy Justyna Zubko-Valva

Pollina, on trial in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on charges of second-degree murder and child endangerment in Thomas' Jan. 17, 2020, death and the alleged abuse of Thomas and his older brother, Anthony, first took the stand Tuesday and declared that she was "evil” for exiling the boys to the garage.

But Pollina, 45, a onetime medical biller, attempted to distance herself from Thomas' plight the day he died, saying Valva, an ex-NYPD officer, put him in the garage that night. And when she saw Valva hosing him off outside in the freezing cold the next morning after he soiled his pants, she was "shocked" and later tried to help Thomas.

Valva was convicted last year of murder and child endangerment charges and was sentenced to 25 years to life in an upstate prison. 

Kelly hit on several key elements of the charges Pollina is facing, getting the defendant to say she and Valva agreed for the boys to sleep in the garage on the night before Thomas died, and to acknowledge she was the mother figure in the household and had a duty to care for the boys. 

“Were you or were you not in agreement with Michael Valva that Thomas and Anthony, as of the date Thomas died … were to sleep in the garage?” Kelly asked Pollina.

"I was aware, yes,” Pollina said.

“And you agreed to that?” Kelly said.

“I agreed with him,” Pollina said.

Kelly also confronted Pollina about the timeline of events she laid out in her direct testimony Tuesday, including her story that she sat on the garage floor and held Thomas and his urine-soaked towel and wiped away his tears on the morning he died.

“You told this jury that you sat on the urine-soaked garage floor holding Thomas on your lap, yet you deleted the video that would have shown that?” Kelly said.

“Yes,” said Pollina, referring to home surveillance video that was used as prosecution evidence during the trial.

“And all that video was video that could have shown what actually happened to Thomas?” Kelly continued.

“Yes,” said Pollina, who was captured on surveillance video telling Valva she had deleted another portion of the video.

“The child that you wouldn’t ever let sit on your couch … now you have him on your lap?” Kelly asked.

“Yes … he was still alert,” Pollina said.

Kelly further pressed Pollina on her contention that Thomas was still conscious just minutes before police and a paramedic and EMT arrived. Those witnesses testified that Thomas’ lips were blue and he appeared to be already dead when they encountered him in the basement.

“I didn’t see that he was blue,” said Pollina.

“The truth is, you didn’t care one bit about what happened to Thomas until it impacted you?”

“That is not true,” Pollina protested.

Kelly pointed out that everyone else in the family slept comfortably inside the warm house, while Thomas and Anthony were in the freezing garage.

“Did you and Michael ever give the garage a try?” Kelly asked sarcastically.

“No,” Pollina replied.

Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei stopped Kelly's questioning several times to instruct Pollina, including telling her to wait until Kelly finished her question before answering.

“When there’s an objection, stop talking!” Mazzei told Pollina.

Kelly also attempted to chip away at Pollina’s testimony that she was simply following the lead of Valva by keeping his sons in the garage, showing text messages from Pollina, including one in which she demanded Valva remove any comforts like books from the garage.

“It’s not that I got my way, it’s just that I didn’t want him to keep making it a house for them,” said Pollina.

Kelly pressed Pollina to admit that she was the impetus for putting the kids outside in the cold and then in the garage, which she denied despite being confronted with a text exchange in which Valva pleaded to try a new disciplinary tack.

“No, they were his methods,” said Pollina.

Pollina’s attorney, Matthew Tuohy, who will continue questioning his client Thursday, said he didn’t regret putting Pollina on the witness stand.

“She wanted to take the stand and she’s doing the best she can,” said Tuohy.

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