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Valva case prosecutor says she's turned over 'voluminous' evidence to defense

Michael Valva in a Riverhead courtroom in March.

Michael Valva in a Riverhead courtroom in March. Credit: James Carbone

The lead prosecutor in the case of 8-year-old Thomas Valva, who authorities said was killed by his NYPD officer father and his fiancee after they forced the boy to sleep in a freezing garage, said Tuesday she’s provided “voluminous” evidence to defense attorneys.

The evidence provided, she said, includes records from Child Protective Services, witness statements to investigators as well as video, photo and audio evidence.

The records also include the 911 call Michael Valva made to police on the morning his son died, as well as “his call to his precinct while his son was being taken to the hospital,” said prosecutor Kerriann Kelly, chief of the Suffolk district attorney’s homicide bureau.

Kelly, speaking during a brief conference held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, added that prosecutors are still awaiting Thomas’ finalized autopsy report, but notes from the autopsy have been turned over to the defense.

Both Michael Valva, 41, and Angela Pollina, 42, have pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the Jan. 17 death of Thomas. A third-grader at East Moriches Elementary School on the autism spectrum, Thomas died from hypothermia, after authorities said he was forced by Valva and Pollina to sleep in an unheated garage as temperatures outside dipped to 19 degrees.

“Anything that we have in our possession related to this case, we believe that we have turned over at this point,” Kelly said. “I believe we have provided everything that we are required to provide by the discovery statute. And of course, the attorneys totally understandably need time to go through all those materials. It is quite voluminous.”

Both defendants waived their appearances for Tuesday’s conference, according to their attorneys.

Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William Condon on Tuesday set a tentative date of July 28 to certify the defense attorneys’ receipt of the records. As part of the pretrial discovery process, prosecutors are required to provide to criminal defendants, through their defense attorneys, access to evidence to be used in their prosecutions. A potential trial date was not discussed Tuesday. 

Valva's attorney, John LoTurco, who has said Thomas' death was an accident and there was an electric space heater turned on in the garage, said Tuesday the documents would take hundreds of hours to review along with his co-counsel Anthony LaPinta. 

Pollina's attorney, Matthew Tuohy, who has sought to shift blame for Thomas' death away from his client, said he was awaiting a flash drive with the documents. 

Thomas’ mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, attended the virtual conference. In a text message afterward, she said she was "completely shocked" that her son's autopsy report has not been completed.

"This is not acceptable and raises enormous concerns about the impartiality of this autopsy report," Zubko-Valva said. "I still cannot comprehend why Michael Valva, who severely and brutally abused my children, received a gift from the court in the form of not one, but two high-paid Attorneys who are being funded by our tax money to defend Michael Valva's criminal actions."

Sheila Kelly, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, did not provide comment. 

Zubko-Valva last month filed a $200 millionlawsuit in federal court accusing Child Protective Services, school officials, a Nassau judge and others of misconduct she said led to Thomas' death. 

Newsday has reported that a review of thousands of records in the sprawling divorce and custody battle shows that systems intended to protect children ultimately ignored multiple warnings of Thomas' abuse.

Thomas had been living with his father and two brothers — Anthony and Andrew 6, — and Pollina and her three daughters from two previous relationships, since September 2017, when Valva's estranged wife, Zubko-Valva, lost custody of the boys during a contentious divorce battle in Nassau County.

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