Less than a week after a New Jersey father accused of killing his 3-year-old son pleaded guilty to manslaughter, the man's lawyer is speaking out, claiming he doesn't believe his client murdered the boy.
"I'm not convinced yet that he did what the prosecution says that he did in the trial," Richard Fuschino, Jr., the attorney for David "DJ" Creato, told NBC10 Monday. "DJ Creato did not plead guilty to murder. He pleaded guilty to recklessly causing the situation that caused his son's death."
Creato, 24, was facing a September retrial after a jury failed to convict him on a murder charge in the death of his son, Brendan.
Camden County prosecutors alleged Creato, 22 at the time, murdered the pre-schooler because the father was fearful his 17-year-old girlfriend would leave him.
On Wednesday, Creato pleaded guilty to an aggravated manslaughter charge. Prosecutors said Creato admitted to depriving Brendan of oxygen to end his life. He will be sentenced up to 10 years in a state prison. He's required to serve 8 1/2 years of the sentence before being eligible for parole. Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 29.
Brendan Creato's body was discovered in a wooded area of Haddon Township by the Cooper River in Oct. 2015. DJ Creato said the boy wandered away from home and maintained that a stranger killed his son.
During the April murder trial, prosecutors argued that Brendan didn't walk into the woods alone. They said the boy was very afraid of the dark and that the boy wasn't wearing shoes, yet the soles of his bright socks were clean.
DJ Creato was also recorded by his son's mother talking about "a spirit" drawing the child into the woods. The mother, Samantha Denoto, made the recording at the request of prosecutors.
The case ended in a hung jury with prosecutors vowing to retry the man. The new trial was scheduled for Sept. 11 prior to Creato's guilty plea.
Despite the plea deal, Fuschino still maintains that Creato doesn't know what really happened the night of his son's death.
"I believe him sincere in his wondering what happened and his desire to find out what happened," Fuschino said.
Fuschino also claimed no motive was entered on the record about Creato's girlfriend disliking children and that his client feels remorseful.
"He does feel a great deal of remorse and guilt for the fact that his son did die," Fuschino said.
DJ Creato has remained in custody since the trial ended. With the time served, Creato could be out of jail in six years. Many Haddon Township residents expressed outrage at the sentencing, believing Creato should remain behind bars for a longer amount of time. Fuschino doesn't agree however.
"If an innocent person spends the rest of his life in jail that's certainly not justice," Fuschino said. "And if a guilty person walks away Scott free that's certainly not justice. This is certainly no less a justice than that."