Jurors have found a Middletown father guilty of murder in the death of his 7-month-old son, who prosecutors said he threw off the Arrigoni Bridge in 2015.
Tony Moreno, 23, maintained through the trial that he never intended to kill his son and that the child slipped from his arms and into the Connecticut River 90 feet below. Prosecutors disputed that story.
On the stand during the trial, Moreno held a baby doll in his arms that he said represented his son, Aaden, and he spoke about what happened on the night of Sunday, July 5, 2015.
Two days passed before a canoeist found Aaden's body in the water, near the East Haddam Swing Bridge.
Moreno claimed that his intention was to take his own life on the bridge, not his child’s, and that Aaden slipped from his hands into the water.
Moreno jumped from the bridge, but survived after emergency crews received a call from Aaden’s mother, who that Moreno was suicidal, and responded to the scene.
Prosecutors pointed to text messages between Moreno and Aaden’s mother, from whom he was separated, to prove that Moreno went to the bridge with the intent of killing himself and their baby, including "You tried to keep him away from me and you failed. I didn't" and "he's dead," as well as "And soon you will be too."
"Clearly it was a murder case," said State's Attorney Peter McShane. "Tony Moreno was on the bridge that night and he had the intent to commit murder and that's just what he did."
Defense attorney Norman Pattis told the jury Moreno made a mistake.
"On July 5, 2015, he was torn asunder by a love lost, confused about a man-child he was unprepared to raise," Pattis said.
Prosecutors and defense presented evidence for five days and the jury began deliberating around 1:50 p.m. Tuesday. Shortly before noon Wednesday the jury had the verdict.
Aaden's mother and family were in the front row of the courtroom as the verdict was read.
"This is the first time since she (Aaden's mother) received that text at 11:45 that said 'he's dead' that she's been able to breathe," said McShane. " She feels like a huge weight has been lifted off her and as a result she can now, at this point, go on with her life."
Moreno was also found guilty of risk of injury to a minor. His sentencing is scheduled for May 18. He faces up to 70 years in prison
Pattis said they were disappointed with the verdict and plan to appeal.