Michael Valva trial: Teacher breaks down recalling how emaciated Thomas ate crumbs off school floor
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RIVERHEAD, NEW YORK: A Long Island teacher broke down in tears as she testified at a disgraced NYPD officer's murder trial on Monday, October 17, that the "emaciated" eight-year-old son of Michael Valva was so neglected at home that he had to eat crumbs off the school floor. As reported by Newsday, Thomas, an autistic student, had spoken about how hungry he was staff members at East Moriches Elementary School so frequently that second-grade teacher Michelle Cagliano started keeping a journal each time he asked for food.
The teacher testified, "He was so skinny. I could feel the bones in his body." She promised to send Thomas to the school cafeteria to buy breakfast or other snacks like granola bars to satisfy his hunger. When the boy soiled his pants in September 2018 after Cagliano gave him a pear and crackers as a snack, Valva's irate then-fiancée, Angela Pollina, accused her of being at fault, The NY Post reported.
Referring to Pollina, Cagliano said, "She was not happy with me." After that, she said Valva reprimanded her for giving Thomas snacks, calling the youngster a liar who had tricked teachers into giving him food, according to the outlet. In November 2018, the child put on weight and displayed better behavior, but by January 2019, he was again "very, very skinny, very emaciated, very hungry," testified the teacher.
Thomas was allegedly locked in an unheated garage in the family home that Valva, 43, shared with Pollina, 45, and left to freeze to death. Valva is currently on trial for murder. Thomas' brother Anthony, escaped the brutal punishment. He was 10 at the time.
Separate trials are being held for Valva and Pollina in connection with the boy's tragic death in January 2020. MEAWW earlier reported that East Moriches Elementary School principal Edward Schneyer said that Valva and Pollina had resisted the school's concerns about the apparent mistreatment of Thomas and Anthony. “We felt as a team we were not getting the results we wanted to see,” Schneyer told jurors on October 9, according to a report by Newsday.
The Suffolk County Sheriff's Office received inmates Michael Valva and Angela Pollina late yesterday following their arrest for the murder of Thomas Valva. (1 of 2) pic.twitter.com/VYiDRKU7Q3— Suffolk County Sheriff's Office (@Suffolk_Sheriff) January 25, 2020
The principal recalled Anthony showing up at school covered in feces and Thomas occasionally having scratches and bruises on his face, with both boys often cold and hungry. Despite many complaints to CPS, according to Schneyer, Valva reacted defensively when confronted by school staffers and claimed the personnel were harassing his family.