AN "EMOTIONALLY distraught" police officer accused of letting his eight-year-old autistic son freeze to death in the garage claims it was just a tragic accident, his lawyer said.
Michael Valva is on suicide watch as he awaits trial in connection with the Jan. 17 death of little Thomas, who perished from extreme hypothermia.
The NYPD officer's new lawyer John LoTurco argued Thursday that what happened "was a nightmarish accidental death and clearly not a murder."
"Michael Valva is now being portrayed as a monster, when in actuality he's a caring father of three boys and his fiancees' three daughters," LoTurco said in the Long Island courtroom, according to Newsday.
Older brother Anthony, 10, was also sleeping in the garage, according to Newsday. Both are on the autism spectrum.
"This case has psychological complexities that we will discuss at a later time in reference to why the boys were in the garage in the first place," LoTurco said, according to Newsday.
The 40-year-old Valva was suspended without pay by the NYPD following his son's death.
He received a court-appointed lawyer because he is "essentially indigent," according to the New York Post.
The little boy's mother said she believes that the defendant is hiding money and is not really poor.
"He received a private attorney, a court-appointed private attorney that obviously as taxpayers we all pay for the attorney appointed to the murderer of my son," Justyna Zubko-Valva told Newsday.
"That's not acceptable.
"The court failed to completely investigate his financial situation … I'm doubting that justice is going to be served at this point."
Valva's former girlfriend Angela Pollina is also charged in Thomas' death.
Valva, accused of second-degree murder, is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day at the Suffolk County Jail as part of his suicide watch.
"Based on the [Jeffrey] Epstein affair, the jail is not taking any chances," LoTurco told Newsday.
Sex offender and accused child sex trafficker Epstein hanged himself in a New York City jail last year.
Source: Read Full Article