Angela Pollina appears for arraignment on murder and other charges...

Angela Pollina appears for arraignment on murder and other charges in the death of Thomas Valva at Suffolk County Court in Riverhead on Feb. 6, 2020. Credit: James Carbone

A jury of eight men and four women was seated in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead Friday to decide criminal charges against Angela Pollina, the Center Moriches woman accused in the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva. 

The final alternate jurors were selected Friday morning, completing the selection process after two and a half days, when more than 600 prospective jurors were summoned to the courthouse. The alternate jurors consist of four women and two men. 

Opening statements in Pollina’s trial are scheduled for Monday morning in Supreme Court Justice Timothy Mazzei's courtroom on the fourth floor in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead.

Thomas' father, ex-NYPD Officer Michael Valva, was Pollina's fiance at the time of the boy's death.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A jury was seated Friday morning in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead to decide charges against Angela Pollina, a mother of three girls who is accused of killing 8-year-old Thomas Valva.
  • Pollina is charged with second-degree murder in Thomas' death, and the alleged abuse of Thomas and his older brother, Anthony, before Thomas' death in January 2020.
  • Opening arguments in the second Valva case trial are scheduled to begin in Riverhead on Monday morning. Thomas' father, Michael Valva, who was Pollina's ex-fiance, was convicted of the same charges during a trial last year.

Both Valva and Pollina were charged with second-degree murder after Thomas died of hypothermia on Jan. 17, 2020, after spending a night on the bare concrete floor of the Bittersweet Lane home garage when the temperature hovered at around 19 degrees, prosecutors have said. 

Pollina's Huntington-based defense attorney Matthew Tuohy said his opening statement will concentrate on Pollina's actions — or lack thereof — on the morning of Thomas' death. 

"I'm going to focus on the fact that she didn't commit the act and the people are speculating on her state of mind because she wasn't involved at all," Tuohy said. "She only came onto the scene and tried to help out." 

Tuohy said he was able to emphasize some key points to the jury during the voir dire part of jury selection — that it's difficult to determine a person's state of mind and the intricacies of navigating the parenting of children in a blended family. 

Tuohy plans to argue that it was Michael Valva who was in charge of caring for and disciplining his children — even though they all lived under the same roof and Valva worked long hours as an NYPD transit officer.

Pollina has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in Thomas' death under the "depraved indifference" theory, which is not an intentional crime. She's also pleaded not guilty to the other indictment charges — four counts of endangering the welfare of a child in the alleged abuse of Thomas and his older brother, Anthony, who was 10 years old when Thomas died. 

Prosecutors have said the pair were acting in concert when Thomas and Anthony were forced to sleep in an unheated garage. 

An nndated photograph of Thomas Valva.

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

Michael Valva was convicted of murdering Thomas at his trial last year and is serving the maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison in an upstate prison near the Canadian border.

Pollina demanded the boys sleep in the garage and told Valva on more than one occasion that he could move out of their Center Moriches home if he didn't like it, according to text messages presented by the prosecution at Michael Valva's trial. 

Prosecutors are also expected to present those text messages to the jury, as well as video and audio evidence from a home surveillance system inside the Valva-Pollina house. 

The boys' teachers at East Moriches Elementary School are also expected to testify — as they did at Michael Valva's trial — about how the boys suffered in the years before Thomas died. 

Anthony and Thomas appeared, at times, "emaciated" and often came to school saying they were hungry and cold, their teachers testified during Valva's trial. 

On one morning, Thomas told his teacher he wasn't fed breakfast because he didn't call Pollina "mommy." 

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