Grandfather agrees to plead guilty to dropping toddler to her death aboard cruise ship

FILE - This May 11, 2006 file photo shows the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship docked in Bayonne, N.J. On Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, Salvatore "Sam" Anello, an Indiana man who was holding his granddaughter before she fell from an open window of the cruise ship and plunged to her death in July 2019 in Puerto Rico, agreed to plead guilty in her death, explaining that he was doing so "to try to help end part of this nightmare for my family." (AP Photo/Mike Derer, File)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

A grandfather charged with dropping his toddler granddaughter to her death through an open window of a cruise ship docked in Puerto Rico last summer has reportedly agreed to accept a plea deal, according to multiple news reports.

The deal likely means Salvatore Anello will not serve jail time.

Anello was on vacation with the Wiegand family in July 2019.

He was holding 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand when she fell through an open 11th -floor window aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas on July 7. He told authorities that he was color blind and didn't realize the window was open.

Chloe Wiegand fell through an open 11th-floor window aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas on July 7, 2019. Her grandfather, Salvatore Anello, was charged in her death in October.

He was charged with negligent homicide in October.

When initially offered a plea deal in December, he strongly maintained his innocence and said he didn't want to make a deal with prosecutors but had not completely ruled it out, according to his defense attorney Jose Perez.

Explore»FROM DECEMBER: Grandfather could get plea deal in toddler’s cruise ship death

Michael Winkleman, an attorney for the Wiegand family, said Tuesday that Anello filed paperwork to agree to change his plea to guilty in return for probation that would be served in South Bend, Indiana, where the family is from, according to NBC News.

He could have received a three-year prison sentence if he had been convicted in the case.

Salvatore Anello, left, was holding 18-month-old Chloe Wiegand when she fell through an open 11th-floor window aboard the Royal Caribbean Freedom of the Seas on July 7. He was charged with negligent homicide in October.

“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 so that they can close this horrible chapter and turn their focus to mourning Chloe and fighting for cruise passenger safety,” he said, according to ABC News.

The Wiegands filed a federal lawsuit against Royal Caribbean Cruises in December, alleging the company was at fault.

Explore»RELATED: Parents of girl who fell to her death on ship sue Royal Caribbean Cruises

But the cruise line in January produced video evidence that it said showed Anello knew the window was open.

Explore»FROM JANUARY: Video shows grandfather knew window open before dropping toddler

The court filing stated, “The only reasonable conclusion from the video is that Mr. Anello knew the window was open before picking up Chloe. He nonetheless lifted the child over the wooden rail and the open window for a considerable period, recklessly endangering her life. There was no ‘hidden danger’ — Mr. Anello knew the window was open.”

A hearing date for the change of plea has not yet been scheduled.

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