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Father accused of throwing 7-month-old son from bridge

By: Lindsey Bever, The Washington Post
February 14, 2017 Updated: February 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm
Caption +
Tony Moreno appears at a pre-trial hearing at Middletown Superior Court in Middletown, Conn., Monday, Feb. 6, 2017. The state is scheduled to start presenting its case against Tony Moreno on Wednesday in Middletown Superior Court. The 23-year-old Middletown man pleaded not guilty to murder and other charges in the July 2015 death of his son, Aaden. (Patrick Raycraft/Hartford Courant via AP)

When Tony Moreno called his mother from the Arrigoni Bridge, his 7-month-old son could be heard cooing - then briefly crying - in the background.

He asked her to come to the bridge, which stretches over the Connecticut River, to get his phone and baby stroller.

"Sorry," he told her that summer day in 2015, according to court documents obtained by ABC affiliate WTNH. "Just tell everyone I'm sorry."

Then, according to the documents, Moreno texted the mother of his child, writing: "Enjoy your new life without us now."

". . . Tony I'm trying to make this co parent thing work!" she responded.

"Your not a parent anymore," Moreno wrote back.

She asked where he was, then asked about their infant.

"He's dead," Moreno replied. "And soon I will be too."

Investigators say Moreno tossed the 7-month-old child into the water late that night on July 5, 2015, in Middletown, Connecticut - and then jumped some 100 feet down to join him.

The child died.

Moreno survived and is now on trial for the infant's murder.

His attorney, Norm Pattis, could not immediately be reached for comment.

The man's mother, Denise Moreno, said in court that because her son was so upset, and because it was so late at night, "I assumed he might jump," according to the New Haven Register.

She told police she scrambled for her car keys, then sped to the bridge along with Moreno's younger brother. She dialed 911 on the way and arrived at the same time as a police officer.

Her son, Tony, was standing alone on the bridge.

"I saw the look on his face," she told jurors, according to the newspaper. "He was distraught. He was upset. His eyes were puffy. I told him to put one foot in front of the other and keep coming. He said he couldn't."

"Stay away from me," Moreno shouted from the bridge, according to court records.

At about the same time, Moreno's ex-girlfriend was hysterically texting him about their son, Aaden.

She later told police that she and Moreno had talked earlier in the day and had a disagreement about custody.

It was almost midnight when he had started texting her, saying he was going to kill their child.

"You tried to take him away from me," Moreno wrote, according to the court documents. "You failed. I didn't."

"Enjoy your life with out us now."

"Where are you?!" she responded.

Moreno told her that their son was dead.

"Your (sic) playing right now!" she wrote. "Please tell me your (sic) kidding!!!!!!!!"

"Don't f---- talk like that," she typed.

"You couldn't kill your own son!" she said.

"Tony," she said. "Please!!!!!!!!"

In court earlier this week, jurors heard from a witness who said she saw a man on the bridge holding a baby over his shoulders, according to the New Haven Register. The child was dressed in a white onesie, the witness recalled.

But when police and Moreno's mother arrived that night, the child was missing.

Jurors also heard a recording of the 911 call in which Denise Moreno asked an emergency dispatcher to tell the officer to let her go to her son.

"Please, I can't let him go," she said on the call, according to the Register. "He just called and said he was on the bridge and was going to jump. He has his 7-month-old son with him."

According to the Register, Middletown Police Officer Austin Smith, who was on the bridge that night, said in court that he saw Moreno "put both his hands on the railing and hurl himself over."

"He jumped! He jumped! He jumped!" an officer shouted over the radio, the Register reported. "We don't know where the kid is! We don't know where the kid is!"

The stroller was empty - aside from some blankets and a pacifier.

Another officer who responded to the scene said in court that he spotted Moreno in the water.

"I asked him several times where the baby was. He looked at us several times, but never answered," Officer Steven DiMassa said, according to the Register. "I asked him to swim to us. It appeared he was trying."

After first responders pulled Moreno from the water, DiMassa said he asked the question again.

"I went up, I got right up in his face and asked him were the baby was," the officer said in court.

The father, he recalled, would not answer.

Moreno was taken to Middlesex Hospital, then transported via helicopter to Hartford Hospital for treatment, according to the court documents. His booking photo, which was taken at his initial arrest, shows him with swollen, black-and-blue eyes and bruising on his face. Police said the injuries were caused by his jumping from a 100-foot-high bridge into the water.

After a two-day search for Aaden's body, a kayaker found him in East Haddam, according to the Hartford Courant.

If Moreno is convicted of his son's murder, he could face up to 70 years in prison, according to local news reports.

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