The grandfather accused of dropping Indiana toddler Chloe Wiegand from a cruise ship window is to plead guilty to causing her death.
Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello is to admit to negligent homicide just days after telling a court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, that he wanted a trial.
The IT worker has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s fatal plunge from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas as it docked there last July.
But Michael Winkleman, a civil attorney representing the Wiegand family here in the US, confirmed Anello’s abrupt u-turn in a statement to DailyMail.com
‘This decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family but because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts,’ he said.
‘It was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety by raising awareness about the need for all common carriers to adhere to window fall prevention laws designed to protect children from falling from windows.’
Chloe Wiegand fell to her death from the 11th deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather held her up to an open window
Salvatore ‘Sam’ Anello is to admit to negligent homicide over the death of toddler Chloe Wiegand
Anello has lodged his plea with the court according to news reports in Puerto Rico, although DailyMail.com understands he will still have to appear before a judge to give it in person before sentencing.
Negligent homicide can be punished with a three-year prison sentence under the Puerto Rican criminal code however prosecutors will likely recommend a period of probation that can be completed in his native Indiana.
Puerto Rico’s Attorney General Dennise N. Longo Quiñones said in a statement: ‘The Puerto Rico Department of Justice has diligently prosecuted the charges against Salvatore Anello in order to bring justice to Chloe’s unfortunate death.
‘The defendant filed a motion yesterday afternoon expressing his intent to plead guilty and asking for a hearing date where the court may accept his change of plea.
‘Anello’s decision to so proceed is wholly within his discretion and will become binding only upon his appearing before the court to voluntarily plead guilty.’
The IT worker has consistently protested his innocence over 18-month-old Chloe’s death
Sources close to Chloe’s parents Alan and Kimberly Wiegand say the guilty plea will not change their belief that Royal Caribbean is ultimately responsible for her death.
The grieving couple from South Bend, Indiana are suing the cruise operator in a separate civil lawsuit, arguing there were no signs or notices to warn Anello that the ‘wall of glass’ he held Chloe up against contained windows that could be slid open.