Tony Moreno said he wanted to kill himself and that his son's fall was an accident
A Connecticut jury convicted a Connecticut man Wednesday of intentionally dropping his 7-month-old son off a bridge to his death, PEOPLE confirms.
His sentencing has been set for May 18, according to reports. PEOPLE’s calls to his attorney, Norman A. Pattis, were not immediately returned, but after the verdict Pattis told reporters Moreno planned to appeal, adding, “I’m disappointed the jury did not credit what Mr. Moreno had to say,” according to the Hartford Courant.
On the night Moreno killed his son Aaden by throwing him 90 feet down into the water, Moreno had testified that he was suicidal. He said when he dropped Aaden, he was pointing out landmarks to him that included the movie theater where he and the child’s mother had shared their first kiss, according to multiple reports.
“What did you say to Aaden?” defense attorney Norm Pattis asked Moreno in a courtroom where Moreno faced trial for the child’s murder, according to The Middletown Press.
“That his mom had made me sit through a dumbass Justin Bieber movie,” Moreno answered.
“What happened as you pointed at the theater?” Pattis continued.
“He moved,” the father replied. “To straighten out his body.”
As Moreno began to weep on the stand, he said the infant slipped through his arms and fell into the river, from which the infant’s body was pulled two days later.
Jurors rejected this claim and reached their verdict after two days of deliberations.
Threats to the Boy’s Mother
Before their deliberations began, those jurors heard from a prosecutor on Tuesday that Moreno acted with intent and allegedly had threatened the boy’s mother, Adrianne Oyola, with the loss of their child.
On the Arrigoni Bridge that night, “the defendant only packed a blanket, a pacifier, an iPod, his phone and a knife,” State’s Attorney Peter McShane told jurors, according to WFSB. “He didn’t bring a diaper bag. He didn’t bring a bottle. He didn’t bring a change of clothes. He didn’t bring diapers. That’s because he knew him and Aaden weren’t coming back.”
Moreno testified that the knife was to kill himself.
McShane earlier had questioned Moreno on his activities that night, which started with a dinner at Denny’s with two female friends — both of whom had kids in tow. After that, Moreno went home, packed Aaden’s stroller, roused his son from bed, and then left with him for a walk around 11 p.m.
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The prosecutor challenged Moreno on why he brought the boy to the bridge between Middletown and Portland, why he never asked to leave him with relatives or others along the 2.2 mile walk to the bridge, and why he didn’t mention that his son was with him during a phone conversation with a friend during his walk.
“You hid the fact that you were taking your son Aaden on a walk at 11 p.m. on July 5, 2015?” McShane asked.
“Not really, no,” answered Moreno, who testified that he decided to kill himself while on that walk.
Moreno told jurors that he battled years of depression and suicidal thoughts before Aaden was born, and repeated that his son’s death was an accident, reports the Hartford Courant.
“What happened?” defense attorney Pattis asked him in court.
“I dropped him,” a tearful Moreno replied.
He described a fractious and broken relationship with Oyola, who the defense said had rejected two marriage proposals from him and resumed a friendship with an ex-boyfriend after moving out of Moreno’s house. The day after her she graduated high school, Oyola had sought a restraining order against Moreno, expressing fears for her safety and the safety of their child, that pushed Moreno’s thoughts of suicide further, he said.
Before he acted on the bridge, Moreno exchanged increasingly worrisome texts between 11:18 p.m. and 11:53 p.m. with Oyola, including one that read, “Enjoy your new life without us.” Moreno testified that he was reaching out to her to comfort his thoughts after Oyola had earlier “rushed” him off the phone when he called her.
At one point Moreno texted Oyola that the boy was dead, even though he was not yet. “I was still trying to decide whether or not me dying would have been the right thing,” Moreno testified. “I thought he’d be better off without me.”
“Why?” his attorney asked him.
“I had struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide for a lot of years prior to him being born and at the time I was having more issues with it. I didn’t think I deserved to be a part of his life,” Moreno said.
Moreno Jumped off Bridge Himself
After saying the boy slipped from his arms as he held him on the bridge railing, Moreno said he began to “freak out,” dropping to the sidewalk and hyperventilating.
Moments earlier, he had made a call to his mother, Denise Moreno, and he described seeing her pull up to the bridge, then hearing his mother and a police officer shout his name, according to The Middletown Press.
When his brother then also exited from his mother’s SUV, Moreno said, “I yelled and told him to stay away from me. … I heard everybody yelling.”
He then ran from them and jumped over the bridge railing into the river. He recalled waking in the hospital’s intensive care unit with a police officer at his side who asked Moreno’s help to find his son to “give him a proper burial.”
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“Did you reach any conclusion then if Aaden was dead or alive?” his attorney asked.
“I knew nobody saved him,” Moreno answered.
In court, prosecutor McShane asked about a conversation Moreno had with a psychiatrist in the hospital. “Didn’t you tell Dr. Solomon you planned to take your life and Aaden’s life?”
“It’s possible,” Moreno said.
In the hospital, “You never asked anyone where your son was, correct?” McShane asked.
“I didn’t need to,” Moreno replied.
“You once told Adrianne you could make her and her son disappear at any time, didn’t you?” McShane pushed. “You made Aaden disappear, didn’t you?”
Answered Moreno: “Inadvertently, yes.”