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Long Island stepmom found guilty of murder in chilling death of 8-year-old boy


The stepmother of an 8-year-old boy who froze to death on Long Island in January 2020 was convicted of murder on Friday, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

Angela Pollina, 45, was found guilty of all counts – second degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child – for her role in the death of Thomas Valva , who died the following day after sleeping in the family’s Long Island garage as temperatures plummeted below 20 degrees.

Pollina’s sentencing comes four months after the boys’ father and his former fiance, Michael Valva, who had worked for the NYPD since 2005, were found guilty of second-degree murder and four counts of child endangerment. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.

Thomas and his older brother, Anthony, spent 16 hours in the home’s garage without heat as punishment for urinating and defecating in the house, NBC New York reported.

A medical examiner ruled the boy’s death a homicide and found hypothermia to be a major contributing factor. Prosecutors said Thomas and his 10-year-old brother were both on the autism spectrum and were sometimes forced to sleep in the garage.

“The cruelty that Thomas and his brother had to endure because of the callous and selfish conduct of this defendant is heinous and, thankfully, the jury clearly accepted,” Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement. after the verdict. “His treatment of these children was nothing less than pure evil.”

The verdict follows a two-week trial in which prosecutors tried to portray Pollina as an ‘evil mother-in-law’ who tortured children and did not try to help Thomas as she claimed, pointing out the fact that he had died of hypothermia and had internal disease. temperature of 76 degrees when he arrived at the hospital, according to NBC New York.

Pollina’s lawyers, meanwhile, insisted she was not responsible for his death.

During the trial, Pollina admitted when asked that she did not allow the boys to use any of the four bathrooms inside the house, according to NBC New York.

Pollina was also asked if she felt she had a “duty to protect [the boys] hurt” when she looked at them, or if she treated them differently from other children. She answered both questions the same way, saying, “I did my best,” NBC New York reported.

Pollina is expected to return to court for sentencing on April 11 and faces 25 years to life in prison, according to the district attorney’s office.

Pollina’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Marlene Lenthang contributed.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.