Indiana grandfather who dropped 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand from cruise ship window to plead guilty
Salvatore 'Sam' Anello initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent homicide in the death of the toddler
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: A grandfather from Indiana will reportedly plead guilty in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter after she fatally fell from a cruise ship window.
As reported by NBC News, Salvatore "Sam" Anello initially pleaded not guilty to a charge of negligent homicide in the death of Chloe Wiegand. But on Tuesday, he filed paperwork to change his plea to guilty in exchange for a deal that avoids jail time, family attorney Michael Winkleman said.
The lawyer told NBC the agreement was "in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe."
A hearing date for the change of plea, however, is yet to be announced.
Chloe slipped out of Anello's grip while he was holding her on the Freedom of the Seas cruise, which was docked in Puerto Rico at the time. The toddler fell to her death after plummeting at least 150 ft on July 11.
Puerto Rican officials charged Anello with criminal neglect despite the grandfather claiming he didn't know the window was open.
He was seen in terrifying footage picking up his young granddaughter and holding her to the window so she could bang on it. Unfortunately, Chloe fell to her death just moments later.
The family was so distraught after the tragedy that they had to be sedated by medics on board the vessel.
Anello, who appeared in court in San Juan, Puerto Rico on Monday, asked for a bench trial in front of a judge instead of allowing a jury to decide his fate.
He told Judge Gisela Alfonso Fernandez he did not want a trial by jury in the tragic death of his granddaughter. The four-day trial is set to commence on April 2.
In Puerto Rico, negligent homicide is a misdemeanor that carries a sentence of three years behind bars.
In December, Alan and Kimberly Wiegand filed a federal civil lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruises, alleging that the company was responsible for their daughter's accidental death. While the cruise company initially tried to block the suit, it was approved by a judge this month.
Now, the devastated parents are filing a separate lawsuit for unlimited damages against Royal Caribbean after failing to convince Puerto Rican authorities to stop the case against Anello. In the new suit, the Wiegands blame cruise officials for failing to put up warning signs that the window Chloe was leaning on could open.
Meanwhile, Anello still maintains he believed there was glass in the 11th-storey window that his granddaughter reportedly fell from.