Jurors in the Michael Valva trial watched 31 videos Wednesday. The prosecution’s witness identified Anthony and Thomas Valva captured on camera in the garage at the home. NewsdayTV’s Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; File Footage; Photo Credit: Justyna Zubko-Valva

One clip showed Michael Valva shouting and swinging his arm in the garage of his Center Moriches home as an unseen child screams. Another showed Anthony Valva as the boy looked with pleading eyes into a surveillance camera mounted in the bedroom he shared with his brothers, sobbing as he said, “I have to go pee.”

A third one showed the former NYPD officer, now charged with second-degree murder in the death of his son,Thomas Valva, screaming at the 8-year-old boy in the garage after Thomas answered a question by saying, “I don’t know.”

On Wednesday, Suffolk County prosecutors showed the jury in Valva’s trial in Riverhead 31 clips taken from the surveillance system installed at the home Valva shared with former fiancee and current co-defendant, Angela Pollina, and their six children. The clips were recorded between Jan. 5, 2018, and Jan.12, 2020, at the home on Bittersweet Lane that prosecutors labeled "the house of horrors."

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. 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. The boys' teachers have testified that the brothers frequently went to school hungry and sometimes ate food from the floor and trash. The brothers also sometimes came to school with signs of injury, such as bruises and scrapes, the teachers testified.

After the first few videos were played Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice William Condon briefly dismissed the jury from the courtroom and asked the dozens of onlookers in the audience to not visibly react to the videos. 

"You're going to see upsetting things," Condon said, adding: "We ask that you refrain from any kind of reaction in front of this jury. Please try to control yourself." 

An undated photograph of Thomas Valva.

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

Before the jurors returned to the courtroom, one of the court officers placed three tissue boxes on the rail in front of the jury box, after one of the jurors requested tissues. That prompted lead defense attorney John LoTurco to object to the placement of the tissues, saying it made for an "expectation of tears." 

Condon instructed to the court officer to leave just one box of tissues in front of a juror in the front row, a woman, who "already requested it." 

Valva, seated between his defense attorneys, did not appear to have any visible reaction to the videos. LoTurco and fellow defense attorney Anthony La Pinta declined to comment on the clips after Wednesday’s hearing. 

Videos from the beginning of 2019 showed the boys in their bedroom, but as the year goes on, the boys were seen on the patio and repeatedly spending time in the garage.

A video clip from Jan. 19, 2019, showed Anthony on the floor of his bedroom while Thomas lay on the middle bunk and Andrew, the younger Valva sibling, lay on the top bunk, according to Suffolk County police officer Norberto Flores, the lead detective in the case, now an Internal Affairs sergeant. 

Anthony cried and said at one point: “I have to pee.” Flores said it appeared Anthony looked in the direction of the camera mounted on the wall of the boy’s bedroom.

In one video, Anthony appeared to be sitting on a dog pee pad on the floor of his bedroom on Feb. 5, 2019, at 10:36 a.m.

Two weeks later, on Feb. 24, 2019, Anthony sat cross-legged on the floor of the garage at 5:11 p.m. The next night, at 11:40 p.m., a video showed Anthony lying on the floor of the garage.

In April of that year, Anthony is seen lying on what Flores said appeared to be a crib mattress on the floor of the garage.

In the fall of that year, on Sept. 26, 2019, at 9:27 p.m. Valva was seen squatting down and talking to a child inside of a tent set up on the home’s backyard patio, Flores said.

On Oct. 4, 2019, at 8:07 a.m., the tent was inside of the garage. Valva was seen and heard greeting Thomas and Anthony, who could also be heard talking.

“Why’s ‘I don’t know’ always the first [expletive] answer out of your mouth?” Valva said, greeting his sons that morning. He eventually told the boys “come out” and appeared to unzip the tent.

A month later, on Nov. 15, 2019, a very brief video clip showed Valva appearing to strike his hand in the area of the tent while yelling and swearing. A backpack was on the floor and a boy’s coat hung nearby. 

On Dec. 16, 2019, Anthony was seen lying on the floor of the garage with just a pillow under his head, Flores said. 

Evidence markers showing various pieces of evidence inside the garage...

Evidence markers showing various pieces of evidence inside the garage at Michael Valva's Center Moriches home are depicted in a photograph entered into evidence. Credit: Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Another clip showed Anthony standing in the garage and Thomas seated on the floor with a book open on his lap on Dec. 20, 2019, at 8:42 a.m. The boys then stood up and each picked up their backpacks and put them on, as if they were getting ready to leave for school.

Three days after Christmas that year, the two boys were back in the garage at 6:48 p.m., a video showed. Anthony, who was glancing toward a surveillance camera inside the garage, was playing with some type of electronic toy, Flores said. “Help … help … help …” an electronic voice said repeatedly. 

“Your turn,” Anthony said. Thomas replied: “No, I’m tired.”

On Jan. 12, 2020, the boys were again in the garage, according to another video clip at 6:46 p.m. Anthony and Thomas sat on the floor of the garage, both cross-legged, with Anthony once again looking into the surveillance video camera. 

A police photograph entered into evidence at Michael Valva's trial...

A police photograph entered into evidence at Michael Valva's trial shows a child's backpack with Thomas Valva's name written on it sits on the garage floor at the Valva's Center Moriches home. Credit: Suffolk County District Attorney's Office

Thomas died five days later, on Jan. 17, 2020, from hypothermia. 

Flores’ testimony — and additional videos — will be presented to the jury when the trial continues on Thursday.

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.