Grandfather of Toddler Who Died in Cruise Ship Fall Doesn't Fear Prosecution: 'They Can't Do Anything Worse to Me'

The grandfather accused of the negligent homicide of an 18-month-old girl who fell from the 11th floor of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship has given a brief statement about the case following his first court appearance.

Salvatore "Sam" Anello, 50, appeared in a Puerto Rico court on November 20 in connection with the death of his granddaughter Chloe Wiegand, who plummeted 150 feet after falling through a window on the Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas while it was docked in San Juan on July 7.

The family have frequently maintained that the toddler's death was an accident and that Anello should not be prosecuted. He faces up to three years in jail if found guilty of negligent homicide.

Speaking to NBC's Today programme following his brief appearance at the San Juan Superior Court, Anello said: "They can't do anything worse to me than has already happened."

The family have said Chloe accidentally fell through the open window after Anello placed her on a rail, believing there was a glass pane behind it. Chloe is said to have liked banging against the glass at her brother's ice hockey games.

Prosecutors allege that girl fell from Anello's grasp as he held her by the open window and there is enough evidence to suggest he is responsible for her death. Surveillance footage taken from the 11th floor play area is set to be the key piece of evidence during the upcoming trial.

"What I can tell you is that we have initiated this criminal procedure because we have the evidence to sustain the charges pressed," lead prosecutor Laura Hernandez Gutierrez previously told the Daily Mail outside the court while confirming the footage will not be made public until the trial.

The family's lawyer, Michael Winkleman, said neither he nor the family has seen the surveillance footage despite constant requests for Royal Caribbean to release it.

"You have to assume that it shows something that really led the Puerto Rican authorities to believe there was criminal offense, so clearly there's something in that video," Winkleman, who is not representing Anello, told CBS.

Chloe's parents have long said they do not blame the grandfather for the girl's death and say culpability lies with Royal Caribbean's lax safety procedures which allowed her to fall through a window on the 11th floor of the vessel.

"The thing that he has repeatedly told us is: 'I believed that there was glass.' He will cry over and over. At no point ever, ever has Sam ever put our kids in danger," Kimberly Wiegand told Today in July.

Alan Wiegand added in the same interview: "I mean you can barely look at him without him crying. She was his best friend."

The family are planning to sue to the cruise line company over Chloe's death.

In a statement to Newsweek, Royal Caribbean said: "This was a tragic incident. Out of respect for the family's privacy during this very sad time, and because the government has chosen to charge Mr. Salvatore Anello with negligent homicide in a matter now before the courts, we have no further comment."

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The new cruise ship Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest cruise ship, owned by Royal Caribbean, sits off the shores of Bayonne, New Jersey 12 May, 2006 in New York Harbor. Grandfather Salvatore Anello has appeared in court charged with negligent homicide for his granddaughter's death on the cruise ship in July. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty
Grandfather of Toddler Who Died in Cruise Ship Fall Doesn't Fear Prosecution: 'They Can't Do Anything Worse to Me' | World