Valva, 43, was convicted of locking his son, Thomas, in his freezing garage on January 20, 2020, at a time temperatures dropped to 19 degrees, 1010 WINS reported. Thomas developed hypothermia and died. Valva, however, lied to police and doctors about the situation after Thomas lost consciousness and was hospitalized.
On Sunday, jurors reportedly said they were initially split on whether they should convict him on a lesser charge of manslaughter for the boy’s death, Law & Crime reported, but eventually decided on convicting Valva of second-degree murder.
“It was definitely split,” juror Christina Anselmo 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.”
It was ultimately the 911 call that led to Valva’s conviction, juror Thaddeus Brewer told the outlet.
“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.”
Valva was also found guilty of child endangerment for his treatment of Thomas, as well as Thomas’s 10-year-old brother Anthony, 1010 WINS reported. Evidence showed that the boys were abused by Valva and his then-fiancé Angela Pollina.
“I will beat them until they bleed,” Valva once texted Pollina, court documents showed. “It is the only thing that works.”
The couple reportedly starved the children and prohibited them from using the bathroom. They also made them sleep on dog pee pads or in their Center Moriches, New York, garage, which was unheated.
“Today the jury has spoken on the tragic murder of Thomas Valva by his father, the defendant Michael Valva,” Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said on Friday, according to 1010 WINS. “This guilty verdict will not bring back 8-year-old Thomas, who suffered immense cruelty at the hands of his father, the same person who was entrusted to protect, provide and unconditionally love Thomas and his older brother Anthony. This case is heartbreaking, and it has been one of the toughest child abuse trials for our prosecutors, court personnel and jurors.”
Pollina, 45, has also been charged with second-degree murder and child abuse. Her trial begins next year.
Valva’s sentencing is scheduled for December 8.