AN NYPD officer facing murder charges for the death of his autistic 8-year-old son resigned from the force Wednesday -- but still gets to keep his pension.
Michael Valva, 40, was arrested along with his fiance Angela Pollina, 42, after police say Valva's 8-year-old autistic Thomas Valva froze to death in his father's garage in the Long Island neighborhood of Center Moriches on January 17.Little 8-year-old Thomas Valva froze to death in his father's garage in January Thomas' father Michael Valva has resigned from his NYPD job but most likely will keep his pensionCredit: AP:Associated Press Valva and his fiance Angela Pollina face 25 years to life if convictedCredit: AP:Associated Press
Valva was suspended from his NYPD job without pay, his lawyer John LoTurco said, but added the resignation means Valva's pension would remain untouched.
LoTurco said he had just completed discovery on a number of documents and information he's received.
He announced he's asking for an extension to file motions - currently due November 18 - after the documents took him "hours and hours" to read.
LoTurco also said there will be a hearing to determine if statements Valva made to law enforcement during his arrest will be admissible in court.Evidence of Thomas' abuse was well known by school officials, his mom saidCredit: GoFundMe Valva's lawyer is looking to see if statements he made to law enforcement during his arrest will be admissible to the courtCredit: CBS Local
Valva's lawyer also said he's filing a motion for suppression of "certain evidence ruled inadmissible by the court" during the trial, including some physical evidence.
"Hopefully," LoTurco said, a trial "can take place post-COVID."
Valva's lawyer said he's preparing for motions and a pre-trial hearing while awaiting an actual trial, which he said involves the "extremely complex" issue of finding a jury during the pandemic.
Valva and Pollina were charged with second-degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child, and face 25 years to life in prison if convicted.
Thomas' mother Justyna Zubko-Valva filed a $200 million wrongful death lawsuit in June against Suffolk County officials and school representatives, claiming her son's abuse was apparent before his death.Thomas' mother Justyna Zubko-Valva filed a $200 million wrongful death lawsuitCredit: Getty Images - Getty Her lawsuit claims officials were warned for three years of abuse to her childrenCredit: AP:Associated Press
"The tragedy started on September 6, 2017, when Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Hope Schwartz Zimmerman unlawfully, and without due process, a hearing or supporting evidence against Ms. Zubko-Valva, gave custody of her three children, including Tommy, to Michael Valva, even though a prior judge in the case had barred Valva from overnight visits," said Zubko-Valva's attorney.
Zubko-Valva's complaint references the "severe abuse" of her children by Valva and Pollina, and claims those named in the suit were warned repeatedly for three years about her children being "tortured, beaten, starved" and suffering abuse.
In August, a special legislative committee convened to investigate Thomas' death. In February, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced a new internal review committee would be "performing a top to bottom review of the Thomas Valva case in the Department of Social Services."
Little Thomas Valva was left overnight in his father's freezing garage on January 17 of this year, Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney Kerriann Kelly said in February.Valva gained custody of Thomas and his siblings in September 2017Credit: WABC Thomas was seen on video a few days before his death asking to go to the bathroomCredit: GoFundMe
Kelly said Thomas and his brother Anthony, 10, were begging for food and foraging through the garbage at school because they were undernourished. The ADA said teachers told Pollina and Valva to send the boys with more food, but that didn't happen.
Video taken in the house just two days before Thomas died showed both him and his brother in the garage shaking from the cold.
Thomas said he needed to use the bathroom, Kelly said, adding he looked at the camera "with pleading eyes for someone to help him."
Thomas was left in the garage with no blankets. It was 19 degrees outside on the night he died.
"Tommy's death was not only foreseeable, but completely preventable," read the complaint.