The father of slain toddler Bella Bond pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges that he attempted to steal a cart full of items from a Home Depot in Dorchester, including a band saw that cost more than $300.
Prosecutors said Joseph Amoroso, 32, had pushed his cart past the checkout area when security stopped him just before the store exit. He was carrying more than $600 worth of merchandise, including headphones, a hard hat, safety glasses, and a tool belt.
When he was arrested Tuesday afternoon, Amoroso told officers: "Do you know who I am? I'm Baby Doe's dad," referring to the name investigators gave his daughter before they learned her identity. "Now you can tell everyone you arrested Baby Bella's father."
Amoroso also allegedly told officers: "I should've run. That cop would never get me. Fact."
He denied stealing the items, saying he never left the store and was waiting for his uncle.
Police searched Amoroso and found several hypodermic needles in his pockets. Security personnel said video shows Amoroso putting the items into the cart and then leaving the shopping area without paying.
Amoroso remained free on $200 bail and was ordered to report to probation once a week. He declined to comment outside the South Boston courthouse and quickly walked away from a group of reporters.
Prosecutors had sought higher bail, saying Amoroso had a lengthy criminal record that included charges for drug offenses and resisting arrest. He had criminal records in Massachusetts, Georgia, and Florida, authorities said.
Amoroso, of Lynn, never met his daughter but tearfully declared his love for her after authorities charged her mother's boyfriend in September with her death. They also charged the child's mother, Rachelle Bond, as an accessory.
Bella Bond's body was discovered on Deer Island on June 25 but went unclaimed for months.