An undated photograph of Thomas Valva.

An undated photograph of Thomas Valva. Credit: Courtesy Justyna Zubko-Valva

Ex-NYPD Officer Michael Valva repeatedly asked his son, Thomas, if he was alive when the 8-year-old collapsed and was unresponsive outside their Center Moriches home before he died of hypothermia, but he waited nearly an hour to call 911, according to a video recording and testimony presented to the jury Thursday during Valva's murder trial.

“Wake up, are you alive? Are you alive? Are you alive? Are you alive? You can’t answer me? Fine,” Valva said to his 8-year-old son on the Jan. 17, 2020, recording, 50 minutes before Valva called 911 at 9:41 a.m. Thomas was pronounced dead at 10:28 a.m. that day at Long Island Community Hospital with a body temperature of 76.1 degrees. 

The boy had spent the previous night in an unheated garage when the temperature plunged to 19 degrees, said Suffolk Police Sgt. Norberto Flores, the lead detective in the case and now an Internal Affairs sergeant who has spent two days on the witness stand.

Suffolk Police Sgt. Norberto Flores appears at the Cromarty Criminal Court...

Suffolk Police Sgt. Norberto Flores appears at the Cromarty Criminal Court Complex in Riverhead during the murder trial of former NYPD Officer Michael Valva. Credit: John Roca

The video, along with other home security clips taken from Valva’s Bittersweet Lane home and dozens of text messages between the ex-cop and his former fiancee and co-defendant Angela Pollina, were presented Thursday inside a Riverhead courtroom. 

Prosecutors have alleged Valva, 43, and Pollina, 45, forced Thomas and Anthony, who were both on the autism spectrum, to sleep in the unheated garage for months before Thomas died from hypothermia.

Valva has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder and child endangerment charges in the death of Thomas, and the alleged abuse of his eldest son, Anthony, then 10. Pollina has also pleaded not guilty and is set to be tried at a later date.

Prosecutors have said both Thomas and Anthony were also allegedly starved and beaten. 

Valva's lead defense attorney John LoTurco said after court Thursday: "The presentation of videos certainly had a dramatic impact on the entire courtroom as they clearly demonstrated that Michael Valva abused his sons. However, despite the evidence of maltreatment, the trial evidence has also shown that Michael Valva loved Thomas and never intended to cause his death. In fact, Michael attempted to save Thomas’s life by calling 911, and performed CPR once he realized Thomas was in true medical distress."

Supreme Court Justice William Condon — as he had done the day before — warned those sitting in the courtroom gallery to refrain from showing any reaction to the video and audio, which he called "very graphic." 

"Both sides here are entitled to a fair trial," Condon said. "Let's make sure they get one." 

Michael Valva listens to proceedings inside Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on...

Michael Valva listens to proceedings inside Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Sept. 12. Credit: James Carbone

Pollina texted Valva numerous video clips, according to Flores, that showed Thomas and Anthony in the garage, where the couple had banished them because of repeated toilet accidents that only happened when they began living with Valva and Pollina, who denied the boys access to a toilet, prosecutors have said. 

One video recovered from their phones, recorded two days before Thomas died, showed the two boys laying on the floor without a mattress, blankets or pillows. Anthony, wearing a hoodie cinched around his head, appeared to be shivering. 

In another text, sent by Valva to Pollina on Jan. 29, 2018, the defendant chastised his former fiancee for leaving his youngest son, Andrew, alone outside.

“First of all, you leave the boys out in the cold, in the dark at night, what makes this any different?” Pollina responded. 

In a Feb. 12, 2019, text, Valva vowed to punish his sons by forcing them outside in the snow. “Then they can see what life is like outside,” Valva wrote. 

“Anthony’s locked in a [expletive] garage,” Valva wrote to Pollina on May 1, 2019, before adding: “He’s never coming back in? Okay.”

One text message on May 14, 2019, indicated  Valva planned to punish Thomas for revealing to school officials that he and Anthony slept in the garage. School psychologist Renee Emin testified earlier in the trial that Thomas confided in her and a Child Protective Services caseworker that same day that he and Anthony were sleeping in the garage.

“It was Tom,” Valva wrote to Pollina. “He told everything. He’s dead.”

Prosecutors also played video from the morning of Thomas' death from a camera posted in an area off the kitchen that was a combination laundry room and pantry — labeled “Bella’s Room” in the security system because it was where the family’s dog slept. While most of the video from that morning had been deleted when Suffolk Police Det. Guy Gerig got access to the system, that video remained, he testified earlier. 

The video primarily showed the small dog lying down and sometimes pacing in the room, which was closed off by what appeared to be a baby gate. But it also picked up audio from the kitchen and the garage where prosecutors allege Thomas and Anthony had spent the night as the temperature fell to 19 degrees. 

Valva and Pollina became enraged that morning after Thomas had soiled himself, prosecutors have said. Valva can be briefly seen in the video, still in his pajamas, in Bella's room wearing what appear to be black latex gloves and holding a small plastic bag.

A pair of black latex gloves found in the trash...

A pair of black latex gloves found in the trash of Michael Valva's Center Moriches home when police executed a search warrant there on Jan. 24, 2020.  Credit: Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

“I can’t beat the [expletive] out of him, right?” Valva asked before ordering him into the backyard, where prosecutors said the defendant hosed down the boy with water.

Valva screamed at the boy to "get up!" and then a child was heard asking why Thomas can't walk. 

Pollina replied: "Because he's hypothermic. Hypothermic means you're freezing. Washing yourself in cold water when it's freezing outside, you get hypothermic." 

Thomas was “catatonic," Valva was heard saying, but Valva continued to berate him even after Pollina urged him to tone it down: “C’mon, Michael! The [expletive] neighbors,” she said.

When Pollina asked Valva at one point what he was doing, he replied, “I’m [expletive] suffocating him, is what I’m doing.”

Pollina answered: “Get your hand off his mouth right now. Stop yelling at him. There’s cameras everywhere.”

Valva, still yelling, said: “This stupid [expletive] son of a [expletive] fell head first into the concrete twice. He’s got two gigantic lumps on his head.”

Asked by Pollina why he fell, Valva replied: “Because he’s cold. Boo [expletive] hoo. Now he’s a bloody [expletive] mess.” 

Prosecutor Kerriann Kelly will resume questioning Flores on Friday.

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

A taste of summer on Long Island NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer. 

Latest videos

YOU'VE BEEN SELECTED

FOR OUR BEST OFFER ONLY 25¢ for 5 months

Unlimited Digital Access.

cancel anytime.