MIDDLETOWN — A Middletown man charged with killing his 7-month-old son by throwing him off a bridge has testified that he dropped the boy and did not intend to harm him.
Tony Moreno took the stand Thursday in Middletown Superior Court. He is charged with murder in the July 2015 death of his son, Aaden. For the first time, he offered his version of what happened that night.
Police say Moreno threw Aaden off the 90-foot-high Arrigoni Bridge between Middletown and Portland and then jumped himself, but survived.
During Moreno's testimony, Defense Attorney Norm Pattis asked, "Did you intend to kill your son Aaden Moreno on July 5, 2015?".
"No," replied Moreno.
Pattis asked, "What happened?".
Moreno said, "I dropped him."
Moreno testified he intended to commit suicide that night and was even carrying a knife in Aaden's stroller for that purpose.
"I struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide for a lot of years prior to him being born and at the same time I was having more frequent issues with it. So I didn't think I deserved to be a part of his life," said Moreno.
The boy's mother, Adrianne Oyola, testified Wednesday that her relationship with Moreno took a turn when she refused his marriage proposal in June 2015. She told jurors she feared for her safety and Aaden's.
Documents show Moreno and Oyola were going through a custody dispute at the time. A judge denied a permanent restraining order against him days before the boy's death.
Moreno testified he never intended to kill his son and explained the texts he sent to Oyola that night, including the text that said Aaden was dead, were to get her attention and to scare her. He said Aaden was still alive when he sent those messages.
"At the time, I wanted to hurt her as much as I felt hurt," said Moreno.
Earlier Thursday, prosecutors called their final witness before resting their case. Chief Medical Examiner Dr. James Gill performed the autopsy on Aaden Moreno on July 8, 2015.
Dr. Gill told jurors Aaden had extensive head injuries, including a four-inch linear skull fracture in the back of his head. He confirmed that those injuries are consistent with being thrown from 90 feet into water.
Dr. Gill testified that he found evidence during his external examination to prove Aaden was alive when he entered the water. His cause of death was listed as drowning.
Testimony concluded for the day after Pattis attempted to have Moreno demonstrate what happened on the bridge using courtroom props. Eventually, Moreno became too emotional to answer his questions.
Pattis is arguing this was not a murder, because Moreno did not intend to kill his son. Pattis said Moreno would accept criminal responsibility for Aaden's death if the charges were manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide.
He has pleaded not guilty to murder and risk of injury to a child.
Moreno's testimony is expected to continue when the trial resumes Friday.