NJ dad who snuffed out little boy’s life gets 10 years in prison
CAMDEN — A judge sentenced David "DJ" Creato Jr. to 10 years in prison for the 2015 death of his son Brendan.
Creato, 23, had been scheduled to be tried a second time this year after the jury in the first trial couldn't reach a consensus. But Creato in August agreed to plea guilty, even though his father said Friday that he still believes his son is innocent.
Before handing down the sentence, Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley heard a victim impact statement from grandmother Danielle Collins and watched a silent 14-minute montage of photos of Brendan.
"My grandson. My Buster Brown. He was beautiful, charming, smart, loving and —I can't forget — an ornery 3-year-old. A day doesn't go by that I don't miss him. Sometimes I take a deep breath and try to smell him. On Oct. 13, 2015, when Brendan was murdered, I lost a piece of me that I won't get back," Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Christine Shah read on Collins' behalf.
Collins' statement also addressed Creato and hoped that someday he would be able to "speak the truth" more than just say that he deprived his son of oxygen.
"You have caused so much brokenness," the statement said.
During first the trial, Creato said that his 3-year-old son, Brendan Creato, had wandered away from his Haddon home. He called 911 and a search was started for the boy. His body was found three hours later in a park along the Cooper River.
Prosecutors said Creato killed the boy because his then-17-year-old girlfriend didn't want to be around the child and he was afraid she would leave him. Investigators pointed to the boy's socks, which were not dirty despite being shoeless, indicating that his body had been dumped in the park.
Creato pleaded guilty and admitted under oath in August that “he recklessly caused his son’s death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life by depriving Brendan of oxygen.”
It is not clear exactly how he died.
Creato displayed no emotion during the hearing and did not address the court.
The defendant's lawyer asked Kelley to recommend his client be able to serve his sentence in a South Jersey jail in order to remain close to his family.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, Creato admitted to one count of aggravated manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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