An ex-cop has been sentenced to 25 years behind bars after his autistic son froze to death.
Michael Valva, 43, was found guilty of second degree murder last month after he locked his eight-year-old son Thomas in garage overnight amid freezing temperatures.
The former New York Police Department officer has now been given a lengthy prison sentence totalling a quarter of a century, the maximum sentence for his conviction.
The New York Post reports that Thomas died after contracting hypothermia, with temperatures in the garage alleged to have reached a hazardous -6C.
He had been locked inside the unheated garage unit with his brother Antony, who survived the ordeal.
Audio files recovered from microphones placed inside the home by child protection services revealed Valva ordered his son to hose himself down outside at one point in the night after he soiled himself inside the garage.
Prosecutors said this may have been an early sign of his hypothermia.
Discussing the emotional toll of the evidence heard throughout Valva's trial, Judge William Condon said:
"This was the most stressful trial I've ever been a part of as either a lawyer or a judge"
"Everybody who took part in this trial lost sleep, didn't eat, had nightmares -- it was difficult for everyone."
Valva accepted his sentence in court, and said he had "already sentenced myself to a life of extreme remorse, loss and grief".
In an unusual show of apparent emotion he said he "loved Thomas with all my heart", adding: "I terribly failed my boys, instead of providing them with unconditional love and support."
Valva said he did not want his son to die and never imagined placing him in the garage would cause him to.
But he said he lost his way by thinking "punishments were temporary" and that everything would simply go back to normal.
Image:Newsday via Getty Images)
While teachers from Thomas's school had previously made multiple calls to social services over the man's violent parenting, Judge Condon told Valva he believed the killing was unintentional.
But he said there was "no getting around the fact that Thomas and Anthony lived their young lives under constant duress" when they "should have felt safest in their own home."
He added that his status as a former police officer with the NYPD made the crime “all the more unconscionable.”