When jurors convicted ex-NYPD police officer Michael Valva, 43, for second-degree murder in his eight-year-old son’s Thomas Valva‘s death, it put to rest a case lasting for more than two years. It did not come easy. Jurors on Sunday reportedly said they were at first split on whether to convict him on a lesser charge for allowing the boy to freeze to death in a garage on Jan. 20, 2020.
Juror number four Christina Anselmo said she wanted to convict him of second-degree murder from the get-go, but one of the others initially wanted to go for acquittal on the second-degree murder charge and five more voiced uncertainty.
“It was definitely split,” she told Newsday. “I think there was one person who initially said not guilty and five said unsure. So our goal in seeing the videos again and listening to the 911 call was to see if we could hear an ounce of compassion or care in Michael’s voice that day and really get a better idea of how long it took for Michael to take action.”
Some of those jurors highlighted how that 911 weighed toward Michael Valva’s conviction. Juror number seven Thaddeus L. Brewer, who initially wanted to go with a manslaughter charge, said he changed his mind on hearing the charges and also reviewing lengthy video evidence from a child’s bedroom.
“Seeing that it took almost an hour to call 911, that was really it,” Brewer said. “Just finding no compassion at all, no remorse. Everything he did and said was depraved indifference.”
That leaves the case again Michael Valva’s former fiancée, Angela Pollina, 45. She took faces charges including second-degree murder. Her trial is set for next year. Michael Valva and Pollina each brought three kids into the home. Prosecutors said the couple forced Thomas and his older brother, then 10, to sleep of the concrete floor of their freezing garage.
“It was obvious he was manipulated and bullied by Angela and he tried to put a stop to it–well, he said he was going to put a stop to it–but he never did,” Anselmo said. “So it was really the inaction over the previous years, and then ultimately the inaction that morning that really made up my mind. It left us with no choice. We tried to see some good in him, and I think deep down inside there really was. But ultimately his inaction led to this. Any parent’s role is to take care of their children and protect them.”
Michael Valva’s sentencing is set for Dec. 8.
[Screenshot via WABC]
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