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Grandfather Will Plead Guilty in Toddler's Cruise Ship Death

Sam Anello won't face jail time, lawyer says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2020 3:25 AM CST

(Newser) – An Indiana grandfather has decided to take a plea deal instead of trying to clear his name after the fatal fall that killed 18-month-old Chloe Weigand last year. Attorney Michael Winkleman tells NBC that Sam Anello has decided to plead guilty to a charge of negligent homicide brought by authorities in Puerto Rico after the toddler fell from an open window on the 11th floor of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship while it was docked in San Juan. Winkleman says Anello decided to change his plea to guilty in return for an agreement that he won't serve any time in jail. Winkleman says the South Bend resident will be able to serve probation time in Indiana instead of Puerto Rico.

"The decision was an incredibly difficult one for Sam and the family,” Winkleman said in a statement, per the Washington Post. "But because the plea agreement includes no jail time and no admission of facts, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family so that they can close this horrible chapter." Anello has said he held Chloe up to what he thought was a glass window when she slipped from his hands and fell to her death. He has said he is colorblind, which may have made it harder for him to spot that the window was open. Winkleman says relatives want to "turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety" by raising awareness of window fall prevention laws. (Chloe's family is suing Royal Caribbean.)

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