A Florida judge has ordered the six-year-old child of an Italian woman who was killed in a cable car accident last month to be returned to her country.
The ruling in Tampa comes after state prosecutors argued that Gloria Carmiore Palma, 45, of Naples, left her child in the care of Andrew Marcus Mambrino at Tascosa Center late Sunday, Oct. 14. Mambrino, 22, told investigators he left the child in the care of a trusted friend who was supposed to have taken her home.
According to a police report, Mambrino left a trail of evidence that led them to believe he didn’t leave the girl with Palma, who was with him in Tampa at the time of the accident. The unnamed friend had been scheduled to pick up the child from her mother’s house in Naples during his job as a Comcast customer service representative. Mambrino instead told investigators he “changed the delivery” and provided her to Palma.
Palma told officers the two were dining with friends at the Hillsborough County Courthouse on Columbus Day, then asked Mambrino to take her on a walk and ride a bike to nearby businesses. According to the report, Mambrino agreed. As he rode up to a park about 1:30 a.m., Mambrino told police he saw two people fall down a cable that led to a parking lot with cable cars, but Palma then put him on the line, and he was last seen there at 2:04 a.m.
Police began investigating the case and found Palma had traveled to Orlando, where she was involved in a car accident a few hours after she left for Tampa.
Police launched an extensive investigation using mobile data-analysis tools and video footage, according to an investigative report. Police said Palma was at the scene of a fatal car crash at approximately 12:12 a.m. by the corner of Warner Road and South Bouquet Terrace. Palma said she and a male passenger were in the “near vicinity of the accident” but police did not find her at the scene.
Police also used a polygraph test on Mambrino, which showed his true answers indicated he was not involved in the child’s disappearance.
Mambrino, however, claimed to have been with Palma in Tampa, was questioned by detectives and released. Mambrino, a Florida resident, was held by police for four days, according to the Tampa Bay Times. When Mambrino initially said he hadn’t left Palma, police determined it was a lie, and more evidence was gathered, police said. The child was eventually found alive and in good health in a storage unit near the Tampa International Airport.
Palma, who is an Italian citizen and was in the country legally, was subsequently arrested on two counts of negligent homicide and one count of child neglect, according to court records.
Mambrino was arrested on Wednesday and has remained in the Hillsborough County Jail on $10,000 bond. Palma was released on $12,000 bond, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
A state attorney spokeswoman for the Tampa Regional Crime Laboratory called Palma’s custody decision one of the “hardest decisions they make every day.”
“We know the bond amounts that we’re sending out to prospective defendants are often not very high, and they need to be in order to be able to ensure the successful prosecution of charges against those defendants,” spokeswoman Hollie McAlister said. “We can’t allow children to be killed while the defendant is on bond awaiting trial.”