• 911 recording in Brendan Creato disappearance
    911 recording in Brendan Creato disappearance
  • Creato trial date set
    Creato trial date set
  • WATCH: Creato murder case begins
    WATCH: Creato murder case begins
  • Watch: Creato jury may walk
    Watch: Creato jury may walk
  • WATCH: Opening Day of Creato murder trial
    WATCH: Opening Day of Creato murder trial
  • WATCH: David 'D.J.' Creato's mother testifies in his murder trial
    WATCH: David 'D.J.' Creato's mother testifies in his murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day three of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day three of Creato murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day four of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day four of Creato murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day five of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day five of Creato murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day six of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day six of Creato murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day seven of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day seven of Creato murder trial
  • VIDEO RECAP: Day nine of Creato murder trial
    VIDEO RECAP: Day nine of Creato murder trial
  • WATCH: Judge sets Creato trial date at brief hearing
    WATCH: Judge sets Creato trial date at brief hearing
  • WATCH:  Creato sentenced to 10 years for son's death
    WATCH: Creato sentenced to 10 years for son's death
  • WATCH:  Creato's father reacts after sentencing
    WATCH: Creato's father reacts after sentencing
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CAMDEN - A Westmont man accused of killing his toddler to save a romance with a teenage girl admitted to the boy's death Wednesday.

David 'DJ' Creato Jr., 24, pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the October 2015 slaying of 3-year-old Brendan Creato, said the Camden County Prosecutor's Office.

"In court today, Creato stated under oath that he recklessly caused his son’s death … by depriving Brendan of oxygen," the prosecutor's office said.

It said Creato acted "under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life."

The Haddon Township man faces a 10-year prison term under a plea agreement.

Creato stood trial earlier this year on charges of murder and endangering the welfare of a child, but the jury could not agree on a verdict.

A second trial was to begin Sept. 11.

Prior to his trial, Creato rejected a plea agreement that would have imposed a 35-year sentence.

TIMELINE: The Creato case 

READ THE TEXTS: Creato's spats aired in court

Creato entered his plea Wednesday morning before Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley, who presided over his trial.

The media was not alerted to the hearing "out of respect for the family," said Alexandra McVeigh, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office.

Brendan’s mother, Samantha Denoto, and other family members attended the hearing, the prosecutor's office said.

Denoto could not be reached for immediate comment, but her boyfriend posted an apparent reaction on his Facebook page.

"Looks like you came to your senses you piece of shit!!!" said Matt Holshue of Haddon Township, who attended the summer's trial with Denoto.

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Lisa Creato, DJ's mother, declined comment Wednesday afternoon as she entered her Westmont home, which is decorated with two blue bows in Brendan's memory.

Creato's parents have previously supported their son's innocence.

"There's no rhyme or reason. There's no motive," the defendant's father, David Creato Sr., said after an October 2016 hearing. "There's no reason why this father would take his son's life."

More: Judge sets new trial date for Creato
More: CREATO CASE: Judge declares mistrial in Haddon Twp. murder case

Residents in the family's neighborhood were critical of the recommended sentence.

Dee Reid said she favored a life term for DJ Creato, while her adult daughter Marie called for his execution.

''How can you take your own child's life?" asked Reid, who lives a few doors from Creatos' parents. "That's not enough time."

'"He deserves more," her daughter added.

Holshue's post also drew an angry response from some of his friends.

"This dude should never have a chance to see daylight," commented Jacob Hernandez of Cherry Hill.

"I'm so glad the truth is out," added Taylor Bond of Runnemede. "However, 10 years is nothing compared to what he did."

At Creato's trial, jurors heard 10 days of testimony and deliberated over five court sessions. Ten jurors favored conviction, while two did not, according to published reports.

Assistant Camden County Prosecutor Christine Shah argued Creato smothered Brendan because his 17-year-old girlfriend didn't want a relationship that involved children.

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Defense attorney Richard Fuschino Jr. pointed to the lack of physical evidence against the father. Fuschino could not be reached for immediate comment Wednesday.

Creato had maintained he awoke shortly before 6 a.m. on Oct. 15, 2015, to find his son was missing from his Cooper Street apartment.

The boy's body was found after a community-wide search in a forested area of Cooper River Park in Haddon Township.

More: Medical examiner, lawyer spar at Creato trial
More: Haddon Twp. bench dedicated to slain toddler

In a secretly recorded conversation with Brendan's mother, Creato suggested a "spirit of the lake” may have drawn the boy in predawn darkness to the park, which is about three-quarters of a mile from his home.

Creato also described the area where the boy's body was found as his favorite place in Haddon Township.

Under the plea, Creato would be required to serve at least 8½ years before parole eligibility. He has been in Camden County Jail since his arrest in January 2016.

Kelley is to sentence Creato on Sept. 29.

Jim Walsh; (856) 486-2646; jwalsh@gannettnj.com

 

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