CAMDEN, N.J. (AP) — A man authorities say killed his 3-year-old son because he had become an impediment to his relationship with a teenage girlfriend spoke about "a spirit" drawing the son to woods where he was found dead, a prosecutor suggested Thursday.
David Creato was secretly recorded speaking about the spirit about a month after the slaying, the boy's mother, Samatha Denoto, said on the first day of testimony in the case against him.
Denoto said she recorded Creato at the request of criminal investigators. She called his reasoning "completely odd and unexplainable."
Earlier, the prosecutor told jurors during opening statements that the 23-year-old Creato was consumed with jealousy at the time his son's body was found in woods by the Cooper River near their Haddon Township home in October 2015.
The prosecution says Creato killed Brendan Creato to stop his 17-year-old girlfriend, who was away at college, from leaving him. It says Brendan suffered "homicidal violence."
Jurors heard David Creato's 911 call, in which he told police he had just woken up and his son was missing.
"He wandered out of the house," Creato says on the call. "He must have unlocked it and left."
Brendan was "very afraid of the dark," the prosecution said, and the neon green socks he was wearing were clean, which would be impossible if he had walked.
Creato is charged with murder and child endangerment. His lawyer told jurors there's a "complete lack of evidence" in the case.
Attorney Richard Fuschino Jr. said Creato loved his son. He said, while Creato's spiritual nature may make people uncomfortable, that doesn't make him guilty. He said Creato, who has pleaded not guilty, was honest and upfront with police.
Testimony is to resume Tuesday.
This story has been corrected to note Creato was recorded saying "a spirit" drew his son to the woods, not a "spirit of the lake."