RIVERHEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was raw emotion in a courtroom Friday, more than a year after 8-year-old Thomas Valva was discovered dead in his Long Island home.
Valva’s father, an NYPD cop at the time, and his live-in girlfriend were arrested and charged with child abuse and murder. Now, pre-trial testimony is underway.READ MORE: Thomas Valva Case: New Attorney Calls Death ‘Tragic Accident,’ Says Michael Valva ‘Emotionally Distraught’
Their appearances have drastically changed since the day in January 2020 when they were both charged with the murder of 8-year-old Thomas Valva. Thomas died of hypothermia, after, prosecutors say, he and his brother were forced to sleep in an unheated garage in Center Moriches.
The pre-trial hearing will determine what video and audio evidence will be permissible, including a 911 call.
“Suffolk Police 843, what is the location of your emergency?” the dispatcher says.
“I need ambulance immediately. My son stopped breathing. Fell down, banged his head. I gave him a shower to try to help him out a little bit,” Valva says.
“Sir, what is your name?” the dispatcher says.
“My name is Michael. I’m a police officer with the city of New York. My son, I don’t know if he’s breathing or not. I don’t know if his heart stopped. He fell down on the way to the bus. Banged his head pretty good. I brought him in and I’m doing CPR right now,” Valva says.
“Alright, how old is he?” the dispatcher says.
“Eight years old,” Valva says.READ MORE: Thomas Valva Case: Suffolk County Announces Results Of Child Protective Services Reviews
Thomas’ death cried out for reform.
“There’s no question that this heartbreaking case has spurred real action in Suffolk County,” Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn told CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan.
Hahn says their task force has already established a formal partnership with CPS, courts, schools, police and advocates, finding solutions to prevent another loss.
Too late, says Thomas’ mother, Justyna Zubko-Valva, who lost custody of her sons in a bitter divorce.
Zubko-Valva filed a $200 million lawsuit against Suffolk CPS and other Long Island officials, alleging they ignored signs of starvation, abuse and neglect.
For now, Pollina and Valva will be tried together for murder.
“We’ve made an application for a severance based upon the antagonistic nature of the defenses,” said Valva’s defense attorney, John Loturco.
When asked if Pollina would testify against Valva, Pollina’s defense attorney, Matthew Tuohy said, “Not right now. They’ve never offered anything, there’s never been any discussions about that. Right now what she’s saying is that she’s innocent.”
Their trial is to begin in September.MORE NEWS: March For Change Held On Long Island In Memory Of Thomas Valva
The pre-trial hearing continues Monday in Riverhead. The judge is expected to rule in the next few weeks on whether there will be joint or separate trials.