A New Jersey man has pleaded guilty of manslaughter in the drowning death of his 3-year-old son, in exchange for a plea deal, as reported by CBS Philadelphia.
David Creato Jr., 23, pleaded guilty to a single charge of manslaughter Wednesday morning in a case involving the 2015 death of his son Brendan. He was tried for murder in May but it was declared a mistrial after a hung jury. A new murder trial for Creato was set to begin in a few weeks but, as part of the plea deal in admitting to aggravated manslaughter, that will no longer be happening, according to ABC6.
The 23-year-old was originally charged with murder, with prosecutors in that trial alleging that he drowned his son in a nearby creek. This admission of manslaughter does not mean that the court doesn’t recognize that he murdered his toddler, it just means that the crime was done “in the heat of the moment” with no forethought or intent.
“Creato stated under oath that he recklessly caused his son’s death under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life by depriving Brendan of oxygen on October 13, 2015,” the prosecutor said in a statement.
Prosecutors argued Creato’s motive for murder was the fact that his 17-year-old girlfriend didn’t like having the 3-year-old around and he was afraid it would ruin the relationship. His former girlfriend, who remains unidentified, was never charged in the boy’s death. They broke up soon thereafter.
Creato originally told police that his son Brendan simply wandered off into the woods, implying that he fell into the creek and drowned of his own accord. However, when authorities found the toddler’s body, the boy’s socks were clean, which prosecutors said would be impossible if he had walked over mud and dirt. Additionally, a medical examiner testified that the 3-year-old died from “homicidal violence,” due to drowning or asphyxiation, court records note.
In exchange for pleading guilty, Creato will serve ten years in jail. He will be required to serve at least 8 years and 6 months of his sentence before he is eligible for parole, court records have indicated.
Creato will be officially sentenced on September 29, 2017.