A former New York City police officer was sentenced Thursday to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of his young son.
Michael Valva was found guilty by a jury last month on five charges related to the January 2020 killing, including endangering the welfare of a child and second-degree murder.
Prosecutors argued Valva forced his 8-year-old son Thomas and his older brother, both of whom had autism, to sleep in the family’s frigid Long Island garage as temperatures dropped below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Jurors were also told that Valva screamed at and struck Thomas as he died of hypothermia in the garage, according to WABC.
The defense had argued during the case that the death was an accident, and Valva’s then-fiancée, Angela Polina, gave him the idea to put the children in the garage as punishment for urinating and defecating in the house. Polina is charged with murder, and her trial is still pending.
“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,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Ray Tierney, per NBC New York.
“No child should ever have to endure such evil acts. While there is nothing that we can do to bring Thomas back, we are satisfied with the jury’s decision,” Tierney added.
Local reports said Valva was crying as he read a statement to Judge William Condon, who was also emotional.
“I don’t think you intended to kill Thomas, not at all,” Condon said to Valva. “But there is no getting around that Thomas and Anthony lived their lives in constant duress in the place they should have felt safest, their own home.”
“An 8-year-old boy who right now should be getting excited for Christmas is dead, I speak for everybody out there, we can never let this happen again,” the judge also said.