Michael Valva, 45, allegedly forced his 8-year-old son, Thomas, to sleep in an unheated garage in below-freezing temperatures in January 2020, leading to the child's death.
Valva was found guilty on all charges against him, including the highest charge, second-degree murder.
"I have already sentenced myself to a lifetime of extreme regret, remorse and grief," Valva said, addressing the judge before his sentencing on Thursday.
An investigation by authorities had revealed evidence of alleged physical abuse and neglect by Valva and his then-girlfriend, Angela Pollina, between September 2017 and January 2020, including reports from the East Moriches School District alleging that on numerous occasions, Thomas and his brother arrived at school hungry, cold, soiled, or marked with scratches, bruises, and cuts.
"This is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking cases I have experienced in my nearly 30 years as a prosecutor," said Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney. "The torture that killed Thomas and endangered Anthony’s welfare was nothing short of evil. Thankfully, the story of this defendant ends here, but the pursuit of justice for Thomas and Anthony continues."
Evidence submitted from a home surveillance camera captured Michael Valva screaming at Thomas, threatening him, and then ordering him outside in the subfreezing temperature to hose him down with water which caused the child to lose consciousness and fall face-first several times onto the backyard concrete paver patio.
According to testimony and evidence presented at the trial, Valva delayed calling 911 for help until approximately one hour later. By the time Thomas arrived at the hospital, his body temperature was 76.1 degrees, more than 20 degrees below normal. Additional evidence showed Thomas and his brother Anthony, who were both autistic, had been forced to sleep in the garage for months prior to the incident.
The Suffolk County Medical Examiner determined that Thomas Valva died as a result of complications due to hypothermia.
The brothers had been living at the home with a third brother, their father, his fiancé, and her three daughters since 2017.
They were enrolled in the East Moriches School District. School employees testified that Thomas and Anthony appeared thin and were witnessed eating food off the floor, pulling half eaten food from the garbage and taking food from other children. In addition, witnesses testified they would arrive at the school cold, tired, in pain at times, and so soiled that employees could smell urine and feces on them.
Valva's co-defendant and former fiancé Angela Pollina, 45, is also charged with second degree murder and four counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Pollina is scheduled for trial on February 21, 2023.