Three months after a mistrial and two-and-a-half weeks before he was to go on trial a second time for murder, David “D.J.” Jr. Creato, 23, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the killing his 3-year-old son Brendan, whose body was found in woods near his Haddon Township, N.J., home in October 2015, Philly.com reported.
At a trial in May, jurors were unable to reach a verdict. Prosecutors argued that he murdered the boy in a desperate attempt to prevent his girlfriend, who didn’t like the fact that he had a child, from leaving him. Creato will serve a maximum of 10 years in prison — he must serve eight-and-a-half years before he will be eligible for parole and is set to be sentenced Sept. 29.
Even with the plea, there remains no verdict on how exactly Brendan died. Medical examiners stated that the boy died of “homicidal violence” but could not be sure if he was drowned, strangled or smothered. The boy was found slumped over a rock and partially submerged in a creek in the woods some three-quarters of a mile from Creato’s apartment after he had called 911, saying Brendan was missing. Investigators noticed the bottoms of his socks were clean, suggesting he had not walked there on his own. Creato was arrested and charged with murder three months later.
In court, Creato admitted that he “recklessly caused his son’s death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life by depriving Brendan of oxygen,” according to Philly.com. After the mistrial in May, 10 jurors believed Creato was guilty, but two of the jurors contended there was not enough evidence to convict him.
“It’s a very happy day right now,” one of the 10 jurors who thought Creato guilty told Philly.com, requesting to be identified by her first name, Lydia. “Justice has been served.”