Angela Pollina and Michael Valva at Suffolk County Court Wednesday.

Angela Pollina and Michael Valva at Suffolk County Court Wednesday. Credit: John Roca

The murder trial for the ex-NYPD cop and his former fiancee who are accused of killing the officer’s 8-year-old son was delayed again Wednesday as the court considers a defense motion that would give a future jury the option of convicting the pair on lesser charges.

Jury selection had been scheduled to begin Wednesday morning in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in the second-degree murder and child endangerment case against Michael Valva and Angela Pollina, who are accused of causing the hypothermia death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva on Jan. 17, 2020. But instead, Supreme Court Justice William Condon heard oral arguments on the defense motion to add two lesser offenses to the charges — second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide — as both defendants sat shackled and displaying no emotion.

Defense attorney Anthony LaPinta, who is representing Valva along with attorney John LoTurco, argued that the judge should include the two lesser charges — which are punishable by substantially shorter prison sentences — for the jury’s consideration at the start of the trial. Matthew Tuohy, Pollina’s defense attorney, joined the motion.

LaPinta argued that due to the State Legislature’s recent change to Section 245 of the criminal procedure law, which speeds up the discovery process by which prosecutors have to share evidence with the defense, he has been able to review all the prosecution’s evidence. In doing so, he said he concluded jurors should be able to consider lesser charges.

LaPinta said “the whole purpose” of amending the discovery process was to “even the playing field” and “prevent prosecution by ambush.”

“Under an era governed by CPL 245, that’s what makes this application at this time meritorious,” said LaPinta. “We now have at this juncture of the case, full disclosure. … It’s unquestionable what the facts of this case are and the prosecution’s theory of this case.”

Prosecutor Kerriann Kelly, chief of the district attorney’s Major Crimes Bureau, called the defense motion “simply premature,” arguing that the only appropriate time under the law to charge the jury is after all the evidence has been presented at trial. Kelly added that never before in the state had a judge added charges for jury consideration before the presentation of evidence at trial.

“The issue here is whether such charges will be factually supported by a reasonable view of the evidence at trial,” Kelly wrote in response to the defense motion. “That decision ultimately cannot be made until after the presentation of the evidence. To make such a determination on anything less than the evidence admitted before the jury would be premature.”

Condon said he would issue a ruling on the motion June 24. A date for the start of jury selection was not discussed.

If LaPinta’s motion is granted, jurors would weigh charges against Valva, 42, and Pollina, 44, that had considerably shorter prison sentences if they were convicted.

Second-degree manslaughter is a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and criminally negligent homicide is a felony that could send a defendant to prison for up to four years. Those convicted of second-degree murder face up to life in prison.

According to prosecutors, Thomas died after Valva and Pollina forced him to sleep in the unheated garage of their Center Moriches home in frigid temperatures.

LoTurco has previously called Thomas’ death a "nightmarish accidental death" and blamed Pollina. Tuohy has said Pollina is innocent and said she was intimidated by Valva, who he said was solely in charge of caring for his sons

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports. Credit: Newsday/Daddona / Pfost / Villa Loarca

Uncovering the truth about the chemical drums A tipster says he told the state about buried drums at Bethpage Community Park nearly a decade ago. Newsday's Ken Buffa reports.

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