Doctor who performed Thomas Valva autopsy believes cause of death was hypothermia

Dr. Michael Caplan referred to photos shown in the courtroom as fresh injuries on the child's face, head, torso, elbow and knees. The doctor said they could not be sustained from one fall.

News 12 Staff

Oct 26, 2022, 10:14 PM

Updated 569 days ago

Share:

Suffolk County's chief medical examiner testified Wednesday that he believes Thomas Valva's cause of death was hypothermia.
Dr. Michael Caplan referred to photos shown in the courtroom as fresh injuries on the child's face, head, torso, elbow and knees. The doctor said they could not be sustained from one fall.
Dr. Caplan began performing the external autopsy the afternoon of the 8-year-old's death and completed the remainder of the autopsy the following day.
When he initially received Thomas Valva's body, he was told the child had fallen while going to the bus.
Later that day, Det. Norberto Flores gave Dr. Caplan additional information that Thomas Valva may have been in cold environments, specifically a cold garage
In the courtroom, Dr. Caplan said, "How they live can certainly be a clue to how they die."
The jury was also shown photos taken during the autopsy of bruises to Thomas Valva's head, including his forehead, nose, eyelid and upper lip.
Dr. Caplan said the injuries had to have been recent.
The medical examiner testified that when he internally examined the child's brain, it was normal and there was no bleeding, bruises or swelling.
He says the stomach had brown spotting in it, which the doctor said is common in cases of hypothermia.
Thomas Valva was in the 84th percentile for his body mass index at the time of his death for children his age and was described by Dr. Caplan as a well-developed child.
The prosecution has alleged that Michael Valva sprayed his son down with a hose after the child slept in a garage for month and that temperatures were below freezing the night leading up to his death.
The father has pleaded not guilty to the charges he is facing.

Previous coverage



More from News 12