The stepmother of an 8-year-old boy who froze to death on Long Island, New York, in January 2020 was found guilty of murder on Friday. the district attorney’s office said.
Angela Pollina, 45, was found guilty on all counts (second-degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child) in the death of Thomas Valva, who died the day after sleeping in the garage of the family home at high temperatures. which fell below 20 degrees.
Pollina’s ex-fiancé, Michael Valva, the boy’s father, who had worked with the New York Police Department since 2005, was convicted of second-degree murder and four counts of child endangerment in November. He was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
Thomas and his older brother, 10-year-old Anthony, spent 16 hours in the home’s garage with no heat as punishment for urinating and defecating in the house. NBC New York reported.
A medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, finding that hypothermia was a major contributing factor. Prosecutors said 10-year-old Thomas and Anthony were on the autism spectrum and were sometimes forced to sleep in the garage.
«The cruelty that Thomas and his brother were put through due to this defendant’s callous and selfish conduct is abhorrent, and fortunately, the jury clearly agreed,» Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement. release. «His treatment of these children by him was nothing short of pure evil.»
In a two-week trial, prosecutors tried to paint Pollina as an «evil stepmother» who tortured the children and did not try to help Thomas as she claimed, saying he died of hypothermia and had a core temperature of 76 degrees. when he arrived at the hospital, according to NBC New York.
Meanwhile, Pollina’s lawyers insisted that she was not responsible for his death.
During the trial, Pollina admitted, when questioned, that she did not allow the children to use any of the four bathrooms in the house, according to NBC New York.
Pollina was also asked if she thought she had a “duty to protect [the boys] of harm” when he was looking at them or if he treated them differently from other children. She responded the same way to both questions, saying, «I did the best I could,» NBC New York reported.
Pollina, who is expected to return to court for sentencing on April 11, faces 25 years to life in prison, the district attorney’s office said.
In a statement provided to NBC News, Pollina’s attorney, Matt Tuohy, said: «She is understandably devastated by the conviction, and we are going to exhaust all next steps to try to help her.» Tuohy did not immediately elaborate on what those next steps might be.
Marlene Lenthang contributed.