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Lawyer: Cruise Ship Video of Toddler's Fall Exonerates Grandpa

Surveillance video is being used as evidence in Indiana man's Puerto Rico trial
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2019 12:34 PM CST
This May 11, 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, NJ.   (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

(Newser) – The lawyer for Salvatore Anello says his client thought he was holding his 18-month-old granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, up to a closed window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship before she fell to her death in July—and surveillance video of the tragic incident will prove that to be the case. "What I saw with the video, it's pretty consistent with what my client has told me," José G. Pérez Ortiz tells the Indianapolis Star. "My client thought that the window was closed. Nothing in the video is inconsistent." Instead, the 11th-floor window in a children's play area was open, and Chloe fell 115 feet to her death. Prosecutors in Puerto Rico, where the ship was docked at the time, charged Anello, who was on the cruise with Chloe's parents and other members of the Indiana family, with negligent homicide, accusing him of "negligently expos[ing] the child to the abyss."

Anello's first court appearance was Wednesday; at the next one, scheduled for Dec. 17, a trial date will be set, CBS News reports. Wiegand's parents support Anello, whom they call Sam: "There is just no real reason to charge this man with any crime," their attorney tells the Star. "You could make an argument that whoever opened that window should be charged with a crime, not Sam." He adds, per CBS, "The family's really not doing well. I think they're really devastated by the fact that these charges have been filed and that this case continues to go forward. They're shocked because they think it's groundless. … They certainly didn't want charges to be filed." The surveillance video has not been released, but is being used as evidence in the case. (Read more Royal Caribbean stories.)

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