Michael Valva appears in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in...

Michael Valva appears in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead in September. Credit: James Carbone

Ex-NYPD officer Michael Valva, 43, is on trial for second-degree murder, accused of killing his 8-year-old son Thomas by allegedly forcing the boy to sleep in a freezing garage and then dousing him with cold water from a spigot outside their Center Moriches home on Jan. 17, 2020. He also pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges in the alleged abuse of Thomas and his 10-year-old brother, Anthony. Michael Valva's ex-fiance, Angela Pollina, 45, has also pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is set to be tried at a later date.

Here's a recap of key moments from the Riverhead courtroom:

During the month-long trial, Suffolk County prosecutors have called more than 25 witnesses – school teachers, emergency responders, police officers and medical professionals – and presented dozens of photographs, as well as videos and text messages to the jury. The evidence detailed the last few years of Thomas’ life, which prosecutors said was marked by alleged starvation, beatings and nights spent sleeping on the garage floor. Among the witnesses and evidence:

School personnel: Thomas’ second grade teacher, Michelle Cagliano, said the boy came to school wearing urine-soaked clothes and frequently complained about hunger throughout much of the 2018-19 school year. She told jurors he ate crumbs off the floor and the discarded food of his classmates from the trash, including Chex Mix and veggie straws. East Moriches Elementary school psychologist Renee Emin said Thomas confided in 2019 that he and his older brother had been sleeping in the garage "because they have accidents" and recounted injuries including a "large bump" on Thomas' head that the boy said happened when his father allegedly threw a backpack at him. Principal Edward Schneyer testified that Michael Valva told him he didn't want school officials to weigh his sons and submitted a doctor's letter saying the boys' weights were healthy.

Text messages: Jurors saw a compilation of text messages that Valva and Pollina exchanged that frequently discussed punishments for the boys, including sleeping in the garage where the couple had had banished them because of repeated toilet accidents. Pollina complained to Valva about the boys’ incontinence problems and said she didn’t want them in the house because of it. Valva referenced the boys not having access to a bathroom. “Gee, seems like he has to go,” Valva texted Pollina after she sent him a video of Anthony fidgeting on the floor two nights before Thomas died. “If only he had a bathroom.”

Video surveillance: Jurors saw home security system footage taken from Valva’s Bittersweet Lane house that showed Thomas and Anthony in the garage in the weeks prior to Thomas' death. On a recording from the morning Thomas died, Michael Valva is heard repeatedly asking his son if he was alive when the boy collapsed and was unresponsive, but he waited nearly an hour to call 911, trial testimony shows. Suffolk Police said that Thomas and Anthony were captured on home surveillance video “shivering” on the bare concrete floor of the garage the night before Thomas died, but that most of the other video footage from that morning had been deleted when the department gained access to the system.

Homicide detective: Norberto Flores, the lead Suffolk Police detective investigating Thomas’s death, described for the jury how he interviewed Valva for about a half-hour at Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue just after Thomas was pronounced dead. Flores said Valva told him Thomas fell face-first in the driveway and that he took Thomas inside the garage to clean him up after he realized the boy had soiled himself. Valva said he took Thomas into the basement bathroom and began showering him, but the boy appeared "a bit wobbly" and complained that he was cold, Flores said, adding that Valva then said he turned the shower into a warm bath. On cross-examination, Flores said Valva cried and cooperated during the interview and told the detective where Thomas' soiled clothes from that morning could be found at his house.

Medical examiner: Dr. Michael Caplan, former Suffolk medical examiner, testified that Thomas died from hypothermia and also suffered organ damage that in two instances was caused by prolonged stress.

Valva's attorneys have argued that Thomas' death was an accident. They have said their client should be found not guilty of the murder because he did not want his son to die and therefore did not show depraved indifference under the law. Valva’s defense maintains that it was Pollina who hated Thomas and Anthony because they were on the autism spectrum and had incontinence issues and she demanded the boys sleep in the garage.

Among the key defense witnesses:

Former housekeeper: Tyrene Rodriguez, who regularly cleaned the Valva-Pollina home, testified Valva was "focused" and "frantic" as he performed CPR on his son in the basement while on the phone with 911. On cross-examination, Rodriguez conceded that she thought Thomas, who was “blue” and “looked lifeless,” was already dead while Valva performed CPR on the boy.

Medical expert: Dr. Ken Zafren, an Alaska-based emergency medicine physician who has written extensively on hypothermia testified that Valva's alleged act of putting his 8-year-old son in a warm bath put him in cardiac arrest, which caused or contributed to his hypothermia death. It sought to demonstrate the defense theory that Thomas' death was an accident.

PBA delegate: NYPD Transit Officer Kenneth Wengert, a union delegate for the Police Benevolent Association, testified that Valva appeared “stoic” when he arrived at the Bittersweet Lane home on the morning of Jan. 18, 2020, to offer support. Valva was much more emotional later that day, according to Wengert, who said he was “weeping, wailing, moaning and crying” after viewing Thomas’ body at the morgue. Wengert also testified that he was aware that Valva had established a GoFundMe page to raise money for Thomas’ funeral expenses. Valva had told him that he had been struggling with financial problems and didn’t have money for the funeral.

Ex-NYPD officer Michael Valva, 43, is on trial for second-degree murder, accused of killing his 8-year-old son Thomas by allegedly forcing the boy to sleep in a freezing garage and then dousing him with cold water from a spigot outside their Center Moriches home on Jan. 17, 2020. He also pleaded not guilty to child endangerment charges in the alleged abuse of Thomas and his 10-year-old brother, Anthony. Michael Valva's ex-fiance, Angela Pollina, 45, has also pleaded not guilty to the same charges and is set to be tried at a later date.

Here's a recap of key moments from the Riverhead courtroom:

THE PROSECUTION'S CASE

During the month-long trial, Suffolk County prosecutors have called more than 25 witnesses – school teachers, emergency responders, police officers and medical professionals – and presented dozens of photographs, as well as videos and text messages to the jury. The evidence detailed the last few years of Thomas’ life, which prosecutors said was marked by alleged starvation, beatings and nights spent sleeping on the garage floor. Among the witnesses and evidence:

School personnel: Thomas’ second grade teacher, Michelle Cagliano, said the boy came to school wearing urine-soaked clothes and frequently complained about hunger throughout much of the 2018-19 school year. She told jurors he ate crumbs off the floor and the discarded food of his classmates from the trash, including Chex Mix and veggie straws. East Moriches Elementary school psychologist Renee Emin said Thomas confided in 2019 that he and his older brother had been sleeping in the garage "because they have accidents" and recounted injuries including a "large bump" on Thomas' head that the boy said happened when his father allegedly threw a backpack at him. Principal Edward Schneyer testified that Michael Valva told him he didn't want school officials to weigh his sons and submitted a doctor's letter saying the boys' weights were healthy.

Text messages: Jurors saw a compilation of text messages that Valva and Pollina exchanged that frequently discussed punishments for the boys, including sleeping in the garage where the couple had had banished them because of repeated toilet accidents. Pollina complained to Valva about the boys’ incontinence problems and said she didn’t want them in the house because of it. Valva referenced the boys not having access to a bathroom. “Gee, seems like he has to go,” Valva texted Pollina after she sent him a video of Anthony fidgeting on the floor two nights before Thomas died. “If only he had a bathroom.”

Video surveillance: Jurors saw home security system footage taken from Valva’s Bittersweet Lane house that showed Thomas and Anthony in the garage in the weeks prior to Thomas' death. On a recording from the morning Thomas died, Michael Valva is heard repeatedly asking his son if he was alive when the boy collapsed and was unresponsive, but he waited nearly an hour to call 911, trial testimony shows. Suffolk Police said that Thomas and Anthony were captured on home surveillance video “shivering” on the bare concrete floor of the garage the night before Thomas died, but that most of the other video footage from that morning had been deleted when the department gained access to the system.

In a recording played for jurors Thursday, Michael Valva asked Thomas Valva if he was alive on the morning of his death. A witness testified that Michael Valva called 911 50 minutes later. NewsdayTV's Cecilia Dowd reports. Credit: Newsday/Howard Schnapp; File Footage; Photo Credit: Justyna Zubko-Valva

Homicide detective: Norberto Flores, the lead Suffolk Police detective investigating Thomas’s death, described for the jury how he interviewed Valva for about a half-hour at Long Island Community Hospital in Patchogue just after Thomas was pronounced dead. Flores said Valva told him Thomas fell face-first in the driveway and that he took Thomas inside the garage to clean him up after he realized the boy had soiled himself. Valva said he took Thomas into the basement bathroom and began showering him, but the boy appeared "a bit wobbly" and complained that he was cold, Flores said, adding that Valva then said he turned the shower into a warm bath. On cross-examination, Flores said Valva cried and cooperated during the interview and told the detective where Thomas' soiled clothes from that morning could be found at his house.

Medical examiner: Dr. Michael Caplan, former Suffolk medical examiner, testified that Thomas died from hypothermia and also suffered organ damage that in two instances was caused by prolonged stress.

THE DEFENSE

Valva's attorneys have argued that Thomas' death was an accident. They have said their client should be found not guilty of the murder because he did not want his son to die and therefore did not show depraved indifference under the law. Valva’s defense maintains that it was Pollina who hated Thomas and Anthony because they were on the autism spectrum and had incontinence issues and she demanded the boys sleep in the garage.

Among the key defense witnesses:

Former housekeeper: Tyrene Rodriguez, who regularly cleaned the Valva-Pollina home, testified Valva was "focused" and "frantic" as he performed CPR on his son in the basement while on the phone with 911. On cross-examination, Rodriguez conceded that she thought Thomas, who was “blue” and “looked lifeless,” was already dead while Valva performed CPR on the boy.

Medical expert: Dr. Ken Zafren, an Alaska-based emergency medicine physician who has written extensively on hypothermia testified that Valva's alleged act of putting his 8-year-old son in a warm bath put him in cardiac arrest, which caused or contributed to his hypothermia death. It sought to demonstrate the defense theory that Thomas' death was an accident.

PBA delegate: NYPD Transit Officer Kenneth Wengert, a union delegate for the Police Benevolent Association, testified that Valva appeared “stoic” when he arrived at the Bittersweet Lane home on the morning of Jan. 18, 2020, to offer support. Valva was much more emotional later that day, according to Wengert, who said he was “weeping, wailing, moaning and crying” after viewing Thomas’ body at the morgue. Wengert also testified that he was aware that Valva had established a GoFundMe page to raise money for Thomas’ funeral expenses. Valva had told him that he had been struggling with financial problems and didn’t have money for the funeral.

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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