Community expresses frustration in bridge jumping case - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Community expresses frustration in bridge jumping case

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Hundreds gathered to remember Middletown baby found dead in river. (WFSB) Hundreds gathered to remember Middletown baby found dead in river. (WFSB)
MIDDLETOWN, CT (WFSB) -

A community continues to grieve the loss of a 7-month-old boy after his father allegedly through him into the Connecticut River.

Tony Moreno, 21, remains under arrest and in psychiatric care.

Police believe he threw Aaden Moreno off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown before jumping himself.

On Thursday, the medical examiner said the cause of death was drowning, and also said there was blunt injury of the head. The baby's death was ruled a homicide.

Many members of the community told Eyewitness News that there is a lot of sadness and frustration surrounding the case because it appeared that Aaden’s mother tried to stop it from happening.

"Domestic violence are complex matters," said Tonya Johnson, of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence. "Court is an intimidating process. When you're going through something like this, you don't know where to turn."

Court records show that she filed a restraining order against Tony Moreno, but a judge ruled that there wasn’t enough evidence to sign it.

Johnson said she isn't suggesting that the restraining order itself would have guaranteed safety for Aaden and his mother, but it may have given the baby's father pause before he allegedly threw his son off the Arrigoni Bridge.

Court papers also showed that Tony Moreno sent an alarming message to the boy’s mother.

“Enjoy your life without us,” the message said.

He also allegedly sent a second ominous text to his own mother.

"Mom, come down to the Portland bridge and get my phone and the stroller so you have pictures of the baby,” it read.

Police said Tony Moreno’s family rushed to the bridge just in time to see him jump.

He survived, but police said he admitted to already dropping his son.

Aaden’s body was found days later in East Haddam.

Documents showed that Aaden’s mother, 19-year-old Adrianne Oyola had tried to keep Tony Moreno from her and the boy.

Her written plea detailed threats and abuse softened before a judge.

“Certainly there can be some intimidation factor,” said Jeremy Donnelley, an attorney.

Donnelley said the pressure of being in front of the judge and the person they’re seeking protection from can be overwhelming.

In this case, the judge said he denied the request to extend the restraining order and told the two to work out a custody agreement.

Donnelley said judges do consider what’s written in the application, but need to see consistency at the hearing.

Johnson also said intimidation comes from being under the spotlight, facing a judge and the person you're seeking protection from.

Video conference capabilities are in place in state courts, but aren't usually used in civil hearings, and the Coalition would like to change that.

"Having to stand in front of a judge, with their offender next to them? It could help alleviate some of that fear," Johnson said.

A petition that has already gathered support from thousands is circulating the internet. It calls for two or more judges to hear a restraining order case before it is denied.

The Coalition is researching, but said they are in favor of more judicial training so judges can all be on the same page when it comes to criteria for the potentially life-saving decisions.

"Everybody needs to be trained on the same issues to address them in the same way," Johnson said.

Tony Moreno was arraigned in his hospital bed on Wednesday. He was charged with murder and held in lieu of $2 million bond.

On Friday, July 10, a Porch Lighting for Baby Aaden event will take place. The event asks for people to leave their porch lights on in memory of Aaden.

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