May 25, 2017
Taking their time to review the evidence, jurors in the David "DJ" Creato Jr. murder case listened again to a 9-1-1 call, a taped law enforcement interview made the day Brendan was found dead and a secretly-recorded conversation made by his ex-girlfriend about a month later.
It was the third time they have heard the recordings: once during the trial and twice during deliberations.
One juror asked Judge John T. Kelley to continue playing the taped police interview beyond where lawyers had agreed. There was no explanation for her request. The judge consented.
At the end of the second full day of deliberation, the jury next asked to review testimony and a PowerPoint presentation of cellphone usage data done by an outside expert hired by the Camden County Prosecutor's Office. The cell data was also reviewed for the prosecution by its own expert and by an authority with the FBI.
Given the time of day, Kelley told the courtroom that the PowerPoint and related testimony would need to wait until Tuesday morning, May 30.
The jury is deciding Creato's fate in the face of first-degree homicide and second-degree child endangerment charges in the death of his three-year-old son. Law enforcement has theorized Creato, 23, killed his son, possibly by smothering, in order to maintain his struggling relationship with the teenage university student.
The jury also asked to review the locations of surveillance cameras in Haddon Township whose footage was checked by investigators.
Jurors also listened again to a portion of Creato's interview with law enforcement that day, starting with his screaming "no" repeatedly when told his son's body had been found in the park.
During the interview, he told police about his activities, arguments with his girlfriend about Brendan, his activities before and after his son's body was discovered, and his relationship with Samantha Denoto, his ex-girlfriend and the boy's mother.
Creato is heard asking asking how his son's body came to be found near the Cooper River, but he never gets an answer as investigators immediately move to have him sign forms allowing them to search his cellphone.
In the conversation taped secretly by Denoto that was replayed, Creato described his relationship with Julia "Julie" Stensky as "a summer fling that never ended" in a secretly-recorded conversation with the mother of his child, Brendan.
Recorded at the request of Camden County investigators, the face-to-face conversation lasted more than an hour.
During the talk, the child's mother, Denoto is heard telling Creato, her former boyfriend of seven years, that she did not see him as a likely killer. But she added that many in the Westmont neighborhood of Haddon Township where he lived thought he had killed the boy.
The jury followed along, raptly reading a transcript of the conversation, which is often of poor audio quality and included many random sounds, including the flush of a toilet.
Creato discussed his belief in "spirits," telling Denoto, "I don't want to sound like a crazy person." He suggested a "spirit" or "energy" may have led Brendan to the rock in the stream where his body was discovered.
During that conversation he also spoke of recently seeing and talking to a dead relative.
Creato talked of his police interview and of the prosecution angering his lawyer because a reporter, not the prosecution, had told him the toxicology report for Brendan had come back clean.
"The whole town is going crazy," she said.
Creato told Denoto he thought it possible their son had left their apartment, became lost and scared, and the wrong person came upon him, leading to his death and his placement in the woods of Cooper River Park, more than half a mile away.
Denoto told him it "creeps me out that it took so long to find him."
Creato called 9-1-1 at about 6 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2015 after the boy went missing overnight. His son's body was not discovered until about three hours later.
Creato said "I would f***ing torture him" if he found out who had killed their son, he told Denoto.
"I don't understand it. I never will," said Denoto near the end of the conversation.
After hearing the entire tape, the jury asked Superior Court Judge John T. Kelley if all recorded evidence and playback machines could be delivered to the jury deliberation room.
The judge said established case law does not allow them to have any playback machines. The jury forewoman then asked if they could have transcripts from all the recordings.
The judge said the written transcripts are listening aides, not evidence, and told them they would need to identify specific conversations and hear them in court, not the jury room, in order to review the transcripts.
If convicted of both first degree homicide and second degree child endangerment, Creato would face 30 years to life in prison on the murder charge and a maximum of 10 years for child endangerment.
Deliberations resume Tuesday morning at 9 a.m,, said the judge.