MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - A Connecticut man who called his mother moments before he is accused of throwing his 7-month-old son off of a bridge to his death in 2015 apologized for what he was about to do, jurors learned Friday.
Tony Moreno of East Hampton awakened his mother late on July 5, 2015, crying and asking her to drive to the Arrigoni Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River in Middlesex County, to pick up the baby’s stroller and a cellphone containing photos of his son, the New Haven Register reported. A tearful Denise Moreno testified on the first day of Tony Moreno’s murder trial that she feared that her son, then 22, would jump.
She could hear her grandson, Aaden Moreno, cooing in the background during the phone call, Denise Moreno testified.
“Just tell everybody that I’m sorry,” Tony Moreno told his mother before ending the call, Denise Moreno testified. She hurried to the bridge, about two miles from their home, calling 911 on the way. The Register reported that the 911 call was played for the jury on Friday.
Moreno, now 23, is charged with murder and risk of injury to a minor. At the time of the crime, the young father shared custody of Aaden with his ex-girlfriend, Adrianne Oyola.
Jurors also heard from Middletown police Officer Austin Smith, who arrived at the bridge simultaneously with Denise Moreno. Both testified that they saw Tony Moreno standing on the bridge, but saw no sign of Aaden.
“I saw the look on his face,” Denise Moreno said, according to the Register. “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.”
Smith, who tried to convince Tony Moreno to walk toward him, testified that Moreno instead looked at him and then “put both hands on the railing and hurl(ed) himself over.”
Denise Moreno, Smith and Officer Andrew Wasilewski, who had just arrived, ran to the railing and saw Tony Moreno hit the water’s surface 90 feet below.
The Hartford Courant reported that Denise Moreno, who could be heard on the police radio transmission screaming, “He jumped, he jumped,” then ran to the baby stroller looking for her grandson.
“There was just blankets,” Denise Moreno testified.
Wasilewski could be heard in the police recording reporting that Tony Moreno was in the river.
“We don’t know where the kid is,” Wasilewski said, according to the Courant. “We have an empty baby carriage.”
As the officers and Tony Moreno’s brother, Aaron Moreno, searched the bridge for Aaden, police officers who were en route to the scene responded to the riverbank beneath the bridge, the Courant reported. Officer Steven DiMassa testified Friday that he and his partner spotted Tony Moreno treading water.
They shouted to him, asking where Aaden was, DiMassa testified.
He never answered their question, even after he’d been pulled from the water, the police officer said. Aaden’s body was found by a kayaker two days later and 14 miles downstream.
Jurors also heard from two witnesses on Friday who testified that they drove over the bridge moments before Aaden’s death. Both said they saw a man on the bridge holding a baby dressed in a white onesie.
The Register reported that each witness demonstrated on a similarly dressed doll how the man was holding the baby. Photos taken during the testimony of Kimberly Parady show her holding the doll up in front of her at about shoulder height.
Parady testified that she continued her drive home and went to sleep. She called police the next morning after getting a news alert on her phone about the search for Aaden’s body.
The Courant reported that Tony Moreno and Oyola had a contentious relationship after their split and that Oyola had previously been granted a restraining order after she told a family court judge Moreno was abusive and that she feared for her safety and that of her son. The judge declined to extend the restraining order, however, and encouraged Moreno and Oyola to work out their differences and come up with a custody agreement.
Aaden was killed on a day he was scheduled to be with his father, the newspaper reported.
Moreno's murder trial was scheduled to resume Tuesday morning.