12 jurors, 1 alternate elected in Valva’s murder trial Ex: Attorney

LONG ISLAND, NY — A total of 12 jurors and one alternate were selected Thursday in the trial of Angela Pollina, the former fiancee of Michael Valva, an ex-NYPD officer who was found guilty of the murder of his 8-year-old son Thomas .

Jury selection for the trial began Wednesday, and numerous would-be jurors were excused for saying they could not remain impartial.

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Matthew Tuohy, Pollina’s defense attorney, said four more deputies will be selected on Friday – with opening arguments in the case scheduled for Monday.

“I’m very happy with the people who chose her,” Tuohy said of the judges’ selection. “The review process was great. I’ve been doing this for a while and was really happy with how it went.”

Tuohy spoke to Patch in the days leading up to the jury’s selection.

“I think we’re going to win,” he said previously. “Valva did it.”

Valva was arrested along with his then-fiancée Pollina, who is scheduled for a separate trial, on January 24, 2020 and charged with second-degree murder and quadruple child endangerment. Each faced a life sentence of 25 years if convicted; both had pleaded not guilty.

In November, a jury convicted Valva of second-degree murder and quadruple child endangerment in the death of his son Thomas, who froze to death in his father’s garage in 2020. He was sentenced to 25 years of life imprisonment.

During Valva’s trial, jurors heard emotional testimonies from teachers, administrators and others painting a picture of Thomas and his older brother, both with autism, living in a “house of horrors” where they were beaten, starved and attended school Were sent urine-soaked pull-ups and sleeping in a cold garage with no blankets or pillows, according to Suffolk Deputy District Attorney Keriann Kelly.

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Suffolk District Attorney Ray Tierney said his office was ready for Pollina’s trial.

“This case is not over here. This case will continue and we will continue to seek justice,” Tierney said.

Tuohy said of Pollina, “She did not commit the act. He did it. Prosecutors have spent an enormous amount of time in the previous months disparaging their actions and words. The reason they’re doing it is because they didn’t do it, they’re doing it.”

During Valva’s trial, a witness, a plumber, said he saw Pollina throw a child down the stairs. Evidence of lyrics was also shown reflecting Pollina’s frustration with Thomas and his older brother’s incontinence and her statement that she didn’t want them in the house.

Valva’s defense team painted a picture of Valva as a man stressed out about finances with nowhere to go with his boys if he had to leave the home he shared with Pollina.

Regarding the upcoming trial, Tuohy said, “People are tough. We’re at a stage now where people don’t want to obey the law. They say: ‘Lock them up! Who cares?’” He added, “We’re going to have an old-fashioned argument. I will really stand up for them.”

Thomas and his brother were forced to sleep in the cold garage as outside temperatures plummeted to 19 degrees, prosecutors said. When he died, Thomas’ body temperature was 76.1 degrees, 20 degrees lower than it should have been.

Witnesses took the floor during the trial, when the jury learned the two boys slept on the cold floor and ate their meals alone in the garage while the rest of the family, including the dog, were gathered upstairs in the warmth.

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The teachers remembered the boys who came to school in their urine-soaked clothes, in pull-ups and cold, always cold, with red and cracked hands and faces. And, they said, the boys were starving, crying from hunger and searching the garbage and the ground for crumbs.

However, Valva’s defenders claimed that Polina was the dominant person in the relationship, the “trigger” of which was the boys’ incontinence.

Flashback to September 2017 when Valva and Pollina moved into 11 Bittersweet Lane at the Moriches Center as both Thomas and his brother were autistic and had difficulty communicating, the boys were ‘punished if they didn’t use their words’ . no food, prosecutors said.

Also, when they started living with Valva and Pollina in 2017, both boys were trained on toilets, but in 2018 they were back in pull-ups. Because of their accidents, they were forced to sleep on the floor, on pads intended for dog training, Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcomb said.

And, she added, there are the lyrics. Newcomb read one that said the boys would be thrown in the snow if they refused to listen.

Or another: “I’ll beat them until they bleed,” Newcomb read. And Valva texted Pollina: “When I get home I’m going to handcuff him,” Newcomb said.

Witnesses, including teachers at Thomas’s school, have sobbed on the stand as they recounted seeing Thomas and his brother starving, cold, bruised and scratched, eating crumbs from the garbage and the floor.

Showing off a June 2019 photo of Thomas taken at school with a bruise on his face, Kelly countered, “Look at his expression. He tells you everything you need to know. Look him in the eye. The child lived in a house of horrors.”

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Thomas’ mother Justyna Zubko-Valva asked for help on her Twitter page before her son died. In 2020, Zubko-Valva filed a $200 million wrongful death lawsuit.

Zubko-Valva has not responded to requests for comment.

In June, a judge ruled that portions of the $200 million lawsuit filed by Zubko-Valva following Thomas’s death can proceed, a judge ruled.