The American man who admitted dropping his granddaughter out of a cruise ship window to her death has escaped jail.
Salvatore Anello has been sentenced to three years’ probation after admitting to negligent homicide following the death of 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand in 2019.
She fell 35 metres from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on July 7 of that year.
Shortly after the horrifying incident, a lawyer for the family said Chloe asked her grandfather to lift her up so she could bang on the glass in a children’s play area.
Mr Anello blamed the cruise ship company for leaving the window on the Freedom of the Seas inexplicably open.
In a statement after the sentencing in Puerto Rico on Monday (local time), Mr Anello said he had agreed to plead guilty so he and the Chloe’s family could focus on a civil case against Royal Caribbean.
He will serve his sentence in Michigan, where he lives, the Puerto Rican government said.
Mr Anello was charged with negligent homicide months after the incident and initially pleaded not guilty. Lawyer Michael Winkleman, who represents Chloe’s family, said he had changed his plea as part of a deal with prosecutors.
In a statement after the sentencing, Mr Anello said he felt a mixture of anger and relief.
“Relief that I will serve no jail time and that I did not have to admit any facts. Relief for my family so that we can close this chapter and move on together,” he said.
He said he thought the row of windows where he was standing with Chloe was a “wall of glass”, and there was no indication that any of the windows could open.
Mr Anello said he had “committed no crime” but decided not to contest the charges so he would not have to admit any facts or suffer a significant penalty.
“It was a choice of focusing our resources and deciding the best path to tell Chloe’s story and devote our family’s energy was in the civil case,” he said.
“I miss you so much Chloe.”
On Monday, Mr Winkleman said the discovery phase in the family’s civil case against Royal Caribbean had been completed and “there is not a single piece of evidence to support the argument that Salvatore Anello was aware the window was open”.
A court date is set for April.