RIVERHEAD, Suffolk County (WABC) -- A former NYPD officer was sentenced to 25 years to life in the murder of his son.
A jury found Michael Valva guilty of five charges, including second-degree murder, last month.
Prosecutors say he forced his 8-year-old son with autism, Thomas Valva, to sleep in the freezing garage of their Suffolk County home.
It happened in January 2020. The little boy froze to death.
Prosecutors told jurors during the trial that Michael Valva treated his child poorly in the final moments of his life, screaming at him and striking him as he died of hypothermia.
A tearful Valva read a statement to the judge before being sentenced.
"My actions were neglectful and abusive to my boys resulting in the tragic death of Thomas," Valva said.
The defense asked for a lesser sentence and highlighted Valva's career in law enforcement, but the judge threw the book and gave him the maximum sentence.
"How did all of us as a community allow this to happen," an equally emotional Judge William Condon asked out loud to the Riverhead courtroom.
"I don't think you intended to kill Thomas, not at all," he said to Valva, who was still crying. "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."
Nine of the 12 jurors and three alternates returned to the court to witness Valva's fate.
They said they think he got what he deserved and they felt a sense of closure.
"His definition of love must be different than mine because I have three girls, two that are twins that are 11, that are two months older than Thomas and I couldn't imagine any father doing what he did to his kids," alternate juror Scott Krusen said.
Valva told the judge he accepted receiving the maximum sentence.
"Your honor, I accept your sentence as I already sentenced myself to a lifetime filled of extremely regret, remorse and grief," Valva said.
The trial of Valva's ex-fiancée, 45-year-old Angela Polina, is scheduled for February 2023.