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A jury is in the middle of deliberations in the trial of David “DJ” Creato Jr. in Camden County, New Jersey. Creato is accused of murdering his 3-year-old son Brendan and leaving the little boy’s body on a rock in a creek in October 2015. Creato, who maintains his innocence, was the one who reported his son’s disappearance that morning. Authorities found Brendan’s body a few hours later. Prosecutors say half of Brendan’s body had been submerged in a creek and that he died from either drowning or suffocation.
Deliberations began at 3:55 p.m. local time on Tuesday, May 23.
At trial, the prosecution theorized that Creato killed his son in an attempt to preserve a struggling relationship with Julia Stensky, Creato’s girlfriend at the time. Creato was raising a child he had with another woman. Stensky was away at college when Brendan was found dead and is not suspected of any wrongdoing.
Through text messages and blog posts introduced during the trial, prosecutors showed the jury a contentious relationship between Creato and Stensky. Stensky disliked Brendan’s presence in the relationship. Creato had to alternate between attempting to care for Brendan and spending time with Stensky.
The communications presented to the jury indicated Stensky and Creato argued frequently about Brendan in the weeks bore Brendan was found dead. Stensky once called Brendan a “mistake.”
Several weeks after Brendan was found dead, Creato communicated with Stensky about having another child without mentioning Brendan in any meaningful way.
Prosecutors also said that Creato was having money trouble.
Digital forensics expert Louis Cinquanto testified about recovering from Creato’s phone a photo of the area where Brendan was found dead. The photo was taken a day and a half before Brendan disappeared. Stensky said she and Creato had been to the spot twenty to thirty times.
Prosecutors further argued that it would have been virtually impossible for Brendan to have wandered out of the apartment he shared with his father and wind up dead on a rock in the creek. The boy was wearing clean socks when he was found, and police say his socks would have been dirty had he trudged the three quarters of a mile between the apartment and the creek. Brendan was also afraid of the dark, witnesses testified.
Defense attorneys presented their case in approximately twenty minutes. A litany of Creato’s friends and relatives testified that he was a peaceful person. Prosecutors countered by asking if the witnesses could testify as to his demeanor since he had begun dating Stensky.
Stensky and Creato had only been together a few months at the time Brendan died.
The case against Creato rests solely upon circumstantial evidence. Despite three autopsies by three separate medical examiners, prosecutors were unable to pinpoint an exact cause of death beyond oxygen deprivation due to suspected homicidal violence. Defense attorneys will likely argue that prosecutors failed to prove Creato guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.