A man has pleaded guilty to killing his 3-year-old son in an attempt to keep his girlfriend around.
David “D.J.” Creato Jr., 23, will serve a maximum of 10 years for aggravated manslaughter for killing 3-year-old Brendan, whose body was found in the woods in 2015 near his Creato’s New Jersey home, Philly.com reports.
In court on Wednesday, Creato said he “recklessly caused his son’s death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life by depriving Brendan of oxygen.” An exact cause of death has not been determined, yet three medical examiners ruled that the toddler died of “homicidal violence.”
The plea deal came about two weeks before Creato was to go on trial a second time for murder, on September 11. Back in June, a mistrial was declared after a jury said they couldn't agree on a verdict five days into deliberations.
According to the Associated Press, Creato claimed that his son, Brendan Creato, wandered away from their Haddon Township home in 2015. But prosecutors argued that Creato killed his son because he feared his then-17-year-old girlfriend, Julia Stensky, was going to leave him, according to the AP. She allegedly told Creato that she didn’t want to be around his son and wanted him to give up custody.
In a Tumblr post, written 10 weeks into her relationship with Creato, Stensky called Brendan a mistake. Over text, according to Philly.com, Creato told Stensky he would do anything for her, but he also said she needs to accept Brendan.
“He’s in my life and I will never leave him,” Creato wrote, “If you don’t accept him, you don’t accept me.”
The day of his son's death, Creato called 911 to report Brendan missing. The boy's body was found hours later in a wooded area, a mile from the home. During the trial, prosecutors said the boy's socks were clean, which would be impossible if he had wandered away from home like Creato claimed.
According to Philly.com, two days before the boy died, Creato and Stensky walked through the same woods where his body was found. She later told investigators she and Creato had previously been there at least 20 to 30 times.
They have since broken up.
“It’s a very happy day right now,” one of the 10 jurors who voted to convict told Phlly.com on Wednesday. “Justice has been served.”
[Photo: NBC Philadelphia]