'I Was In Complete Disbelief': Grandfather To Plead Guilty Over Toddler Cruise Ship Death
A grandfather, whose 18-month-old granddaughter fell to her death from a cruise ship window, will plead guilty to negligent homicide.
Salvatore Anello from Indiana in the US initially pleaded not guilty to the death of Chloe Wiegand who was dropped through the window while on the cruise ship in Puerto Rico last year.
According to his criminal defence attorney Jose Perez, changing his plea means he can be offered a deal that spares him from jail time and from having to confess to the facts of the case as alleged by prosecutors.
Anello is expected to get probation.
In a statement obtained by CBS News Angella said, "I took a plea deal to help end part of this nightmare for my family, if possible."
Anello was holidaying with his family on board the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas when he dropped Chloe out of a window of the ship while it was docked in San Juan.
Surveillance video, obtained by CBS News, revealed the moments leading up to the incident.
She is seen running over to a bank of windows with Angello following her. He then leans over a railing to look out at the ocean before reaching down and picking up Chloe. The toddler then fell at least 45 metres to her death.
"At the moment the accident happened, it was as if this wall of protective glass disappeared," Anello said in his statement.
"I was in complete disbelief. I wasn't drinking and I wasn't dangling her out of a window.
"I just wanted to knock on the glass with her as we did together so many times before. I was placed in charge of keeping my beautiful granddaughter safe and I failed."
Old photos prove Anella had in fact done this before, with one image showing him holding Chloe up to the glass at a hockey game, according to CBS News.
In a previous interview Anello declared nothing prosecutors do to him could be worse than the guilt he already lives with.
"It's inconsequential because of what has already happened is so horrible," he explained.
Anello is requesting a new court date in Puerto Rico, where he'll face a judge who will have to sign off on the plea deal.
Attorney Michael Winkleman, who represents Chloe's parents, said the trial has been difficult for the family. They had previously begged prosecutors not to charge Anello.
"With the criminal chapter closed, they can really grieve as a family," Winkleman said.
Chloe's parents have filed a civil lawsuit against Royal Caribbean, alleging the cruise ship was not compliant with industry safety standards.
The company denies that claim.
With CBS News.