Grandfather of child who plunged to death from cruise ship doesn't want plea deal

The family's lawyer says he maintains he is innocent.

December 17, 2019, 4:57 PM

Salvatore Anello, the grandfather who has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter after she fell from a cruise ship, appeared in a Puerto Rico courtroom Tuesday morning for a status hearing in the case against him.

Amid reports that the defense had rejected a plea deal from the prosecution that would allow Anello to avoid prison time, defense attorney Jose Perez told ABC News "the parties have talked about an agreement in general terms but nothing specific and nothing on paper."

Perez said that Anello does not want a plea deal: "He is firm that he is innocent."

Prosecutor Ivette Nieves told reporters outside of the courtroom Tuesday that the prosecution had not contemplated a plea deal, but they have also not discarded the idea.

Anello’s defense told the court that they will be presenting experts that will analyze the scene and his medical records will be provided as well as testimony from his doctor. The defense is expected to provide the names of experts they plan to call to the court on Jan. 17.

Perez told reporters after court that he was still awaiting information and additional documents from the prosecution.

PHOTO: Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, from South Bend, Ind., is pictured in an undated family photo.
Chloe Wiegand, 18 months, from South Bend, Ind., is pictured in an undated family photo.
Family Photo via Atty Michael Winkleman

Chloe Wiegand, an 18-month-old from Indiana, was traveling with her grandparents and parents on the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas when she fell to her death in July as the ship was docked in San Juan.

Chloe was with her grandfather in the children's water park play area when her grandfather put her on a wood railing in front of a wall of glass windows, according to attorney Michael Winkleman.

Winkleman said the grandfather put Chloe on the railing thinking she'd bang on the glass. However, the window was open and she was "gone," Winkleman said in July, calling her death a "tragic accident that was preventable."

The family has also filed suit against Royal Caribbean, alleging negligence in leaving the window open.

Speaking about Anello, Perez said that coming back to the island for each hearing is hard for him emotionally.

Nieves also said they are moving toward putting the case to trial.

Another status hearing in the case will be held on Jan. 27.

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