Law Honoring Nixzmary Brown May Apply To Thomas Valva Case

Sophia Hall
February 07, 2020 - 3:02 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — A law passed in 2006 in honor of a 7-year-old girl who died after suffering years of abuse, could possibly be used to punish the couple accused in the death of 8-year-old Thomas Valva.

Nixzmary Brown, a 7-year-old from Brooklyn, was beaten to death by her stepfather, César Rodriguez, in 2006 while her mother, Nixzaliz Santiago, ignored the abuse.

Authorities say, just like 8-year-old Thomas, she was starved, beaten, bound and not allowed to use a restroom. It’s believed the 7-year-old was also molested by her mother’s husband.

Her death sparked outrage in New York City and greatly impacted the city’s Administration for Children’s Services – prompting a number of reforms after it was found years of abuse was ignored by the agency.

Santiago was sentenced to 43 years in prison and Rodriguez was given 29 years in prison for the 7-year-old’s murder.

In 2009, former Gov. David Paterson signed “Nixzmary’s Law” into effect to deter child abuse related crimes by charging parents connected to the death of their children with first-degree murder.

Despite this, Thomas’ father, Michael Valva, and his fiancée, Angela Pollina, have only been charged with second-degree murder.

Legal expert, attorney Marc Gann, says the Valva case sounds as if it should fall under Nixzmary’s Law, and wonders why the charges have not been upgraded.

“The conduct that I've heard and read about in this case does seem to support a potential charge, a potential conviction under the murder of the first-degree statute,” he tells WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

The mother of 8-year-old Thomas, Justyna Zubko-Valva, also wants a higher charge.

“Then they kept telling me that's the highest they can go. No, they can do higher,” she said.

The Suffolk County District Attorney says they are still investigating and declined to comment.