CAMDEN, N.J. – Jury deliberations are expected to start next week in the murder trial of a man accused of killing his son because the little boy had become an impediment to his relationship with a teenage girlfriend.
Camden County prosecutors and defense lawyers rested their cases Wednesday in the trial of 23-year-old David Creato, who has maintained that his 3-year-old son, Brendan Creato, wandered away from his Haddon Township home in October 2015.
Creato, known as D.J., called 911 to report his son missing, and the boy's pajama-clad body was found hours later in a wooded area by the Cooper River about a mile from the home.
Prosecutors said the boy's neon green socks were clean, which would be impossible if he had wandered away from home. They spent nearly 10 days presenting their case, but the defense took just 20 minutes before resting.
Creato's lawyer, Richard Fuschino Jr., called eight witnesses, all relatives and friends of Creato, and asked each one the same question: What is Creato's reputation for peacefulness and honesty?
Fuschino then sought to have the charges dismissed, saying prosecutors had "put on no evidence to say that Brendan Creato was killed or that D.J. Creato was the person who killed him."
State Superior Court Judge John Kelley rejected the motion, saying that prosecutors had showed motive and enough evidence for jurors to decide whether Creato is guilty.
Creato's father, David Creato Sr., told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he was optimistic about his son's chances.
"I feel very confident that he will be home next week," Creato Sr. said. "And I look forward and plan on working very closely with the prosecutor's office to find out who really did this."
A medical examiner testified Brendan died from "homicidal violence" but couldn't determine where or when he died. Brendan's brain showed an abnormality consistent with oxygen deprivation that can be caused by asphyxiation, drowning or strangulation, but it couldn't be determined which of those led to his death.
The prosecution said Creato killed Brendan to stop his 17-year-old girlfriend, who was away at college, from leaving him. The girlfriend, who's now 19, was never charged, and they've broken up.