SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (KTLA) -- Salvatore “Sam” Anello, the grandfather charged in the death of his 18-month-old granddaughter who fell from a cruise ship, will change his plea to guilty, according to his attorney.
“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, it was decided the plea deal is in the best interests of the family,” his attorney Michael Winkleman said in a statement obtained by CNN.
Authorities in Puerto Rico charged Anello with negligent homicide in October, alleging that he dropped his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, from an open window on the 11th floor of the cruise ship in July.
Port Authority officials said Anello sat the girl in the window on the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas ship and lost his balance, and the girl fell to her death.
A wrongful death lawsuit filed against the ship’s operator, Royal Caribbean Cruises, on behalf of the family, says Anello was supervising Chloe when she wandered to a floor-to-ceiling wall of windows.
“This (change of plea) doesn’t have any impact on the lawsuit against Royal Caribbean,” Winkleman said. “We still maintain this was a tragic, preventable accident that never would have occurred if Royal Caribbean followed the industry-standard window fall prevention codes that are designed for the singular purpose of preventing children from falling out of windows.”