Video evidence can be used at the trial of the ex-NYPD cop charged alongside his former fiancée with ᴍᴜгԀᴇгɪпɡ his 8-year-old son, a judge ruled Thursday, finding that a police search last year was “legal.”
Michael Valva and his former lover Angela Pollina are both charged in the Ԁᴇɑтһ of little Thomas Valva, who ԀɪᴇԀ of hypothermia on Jan. 17, 2020, after prosecutors allege the young boy was left in an unheated garage as punishment at his Long Island home.
In a written decision filed Thursday morning, Suffolk County Supreme Court Judge William Condon said video evidence from surveillance cameras, along with the child’s soiled clothing, was permissible because the officers searched the home under the “emergency doctrine,” which allows police to make warrantless searches.
Condon also said the couple never objected to the cops’ presence at the Center Moriches home, while Michael Valva enabled detectives to retrieve his son’s soiled clothing after telling them he had placed them in a bag in the backyard.
“The People have satisfied their burden of proving that the police conduct on January 17, 2020 was legal, and the defendant has failed to satisfy its burden by a preponderance of the evidence that the evidence was a result of improper police conduct,” Condon wrote in his decision.
Lawyers for both defendants had filed motions to suppress the evidence ahead of the October trial, claiming police conducted an unlawful search at the home after responding to a 911 call that Valva placed when his son ѕтᴏρρᴇԀ Ьгᴇɑтһɪпɡ.
Meanwhile, Condon separated the cases on Thursday but has yet to decide on whether each defendant will be tried separately or whether there will be one trial with a dual jury.
While prosecutors argued for one trial with two juries, Valva and Pollina’s lawyer urged the judge to consider separate trials for their clients, who appeared in court Thursday.
“The reason we are accepting a need for a dual jury in this case is because it is very clear, as has been expressed to your honor, that defendant Pollina’s position is to blame Mr. Valva for what happened in this case and because of that antagonism we recognize that in the interest of fairness, a dual jury is the way to go in this matter,” Assistant District Attorney Glenn Green told the court.
Valva’s lawyer, Anthony LaPinta, maintained that dual juries are unfair and logistically difficult.
“This is going to be nothing short of a nightmare of a trial if you decide on dual juries,” LaPinta said.
Pollina’s lawyer Matthew Tuohy sided with LaPinta.
“To have two juries … really, really negatively impacts my client, who is fighting for her life,” Tuohy said. “It just doesn’t work. Not only for practical reasons but legal reasons.”
Condon will make a final decision on the matter on Sept. 8m and jury selection is scheduled to start on Oct. 12.