Grandfather pleads guilty in death of Chloe Wiegand, who fell from Royal Caribbean cruise ship

FILE PHOTO: The grandfather who was accused of dropping his granddaughter from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas is changing his plea to guilty in his granddaughter's wrongful death.
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FILE PHOTO: The grandfather who was accused of dropping his granddaughter from the 11th deck of the Freedom of the Seas is changing his plea to guilty in his granddaughter's wrongful death.

Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The grandfather accused of accidentally dropping his 18-month-old granddaughter from an 11th story window of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has changed his plea.

Salvatore “Sam” Anello has decided to plead guilty, the family’s attorney said.

"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," Michael Winkleman said, according to CNN.

Winkleman said Anello will be sentenced to probation and that he'll be able to serve the sentence in his home state of Indiana, NBC News reported.

Anello was charged with negligent homicide in October. Puerto Rican authorities said Anello dropped his granddaughter, Chloe Wiegand, from the cruise ship window in July, hitting the dock below, CNN reported.

Anello said he had lifted his granddaughter so she could bang on the glass windows as she had done at hockey games, the Indy Star reported last year. He said he didn't realize the glass was open. The family is suing Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines for wrongful death, saying that anyone can open the windows and it poses a safety hazard. The family said there were also no warnings posted that the windows could open, CNN reported.

Anello said he couldn't see that the glass wasn't there because he is colorblind, NBC News reported.

Winkleman said his client’s change from his original not guilty plea to guilty will not have an effect on the lawsuit brought against the cruise company by Chloe’s family.

"This (change of plea) doesn't have any impact on the lawsuit against Royal Caribbean. 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 windows," Wiegand said, according to CNN.

Before the plea deal, Anello had asked for a trial by a judge instead of a trial by jury, The Associated Press reported.