A stepmother who was called “wanton, evil and cruel” by prosecutors in New York has been sentenced to the maximum penalty for causing the death of her 8-year-old stepson.
A jury convicted Angela Pollina last month of the murder of Thomas Valva.
Officials said Pollina and the boy’s father, to whom she was engaged, took the punishments of Thomas and his brother to extreme measures, including starvation and being locked in a freezing garage for hours, WNBC reported.
Thomas and his brother were forced to sleep in the family’s garage, which had no heat, and when the temperatures outside were below freezing.
The brothers, who both had autism, were sent to the garage for relieving themselves in the home during the winter in early 2020. The children were also not allowed inside the home to bathe, rather they were hosed down with cold water in the backyard.
Thomas died of hypothermia. His core temperature was 76 degrees when he was taken to a hospital the day he died.
Pollina was Thomas’ primary caregiver, officials said.
She told the court when asked if she could have done better or treated the children better, “I did the best that I could,” WNBC reported.
Her lawyer said the boy’s father, ex-NYPD officer Michael Valva, was the one to blame, WABC reported.
“Michael has the hose on him. I saw Thomas. He was looking at me,” Pollina testified. She said she saw Valva with his hand over his son’s mouth and told him, “Get your hand off his mouth,” but testified several times that she did not think that Thomas was in “immediate danger.”
Prosecutors noted that while she admitted she was “evil” and “cruel,” she did not apologize, WNBC reported.
She was convicted of four counts of child endangerment and second-degree murder after the jury deliberated only five hours.
During the sentencing, the judge told Pollina, “You tortured those boys. You tortured them.” He added, “My only regret is they do not have a garage there,” referring to the prison where Pollna will serve her sentence, News 12 Long Island reported.
Valva was also sentenced last year to 25 years to life for Thomas’ murder.