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Man sentenced to probation in granddaughter's death on cruise ship

Man sentenced to probation in granddaughter's death on cruise ship
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The grandfather of an 18-month-old who fell to her death aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in 2019 was sentenced to three years of probation on Monday after pleading guilty to negligent homicide last year. 

The Puerto Rican Department of Justice on Monday announced the ruling against Salvatore “Sam” Anello in a press release Monday, adding that Anello will serve his sentence in Michigan, where he currently lives. 

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The case involved a July 2019 incident in which Anello’s granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, fell through an 11-story window aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship while it was docked in San Juan. 

According to the Puerto Rican government, Anello "negligently held” Chloe out of the window of the Freedom of the Seas cruise ship before the toddler fell 115 feet to her death.

NBC News reported that Anello was charged in October 2019 in connection with Chloe’s death. After initially pleading not guilty, Anello last February announced he would change his plea so that his family could attempt to move on from the tragedy. 

In a statement shared with CNN Monday, Anello said, "After this sentencing, I feel a mixture of anger and relief.” 

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“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 continued. 

"I miss you so much Chloe,” Anello added. 

Anello said Monday that his decision to plead guilty was influenced by the family’s desire to focus on a civil case against Royal Caribbean in connection with Chloe’s death, claiming that warning signs about open windows could have prevented the incident. 

According to CNN, Anello has argued that he thought the row of windows where he was standing with Chloe before her death was a "wall of glass," with no indication that any of the windows could open.

The family’s attorney, Michael Winkleman, told CNN that the discovery phase in the civil case has been completed, adding "there is not a single piece of evidence to support the argument that Salvatore Anello was aware the window was open.” 

Royal Caribbean, however, has denied this assertion, filing a motion last month asking the federal court in the Southern District of Florida to dismiss the family’s lawsuit.