A trial should begin in April in the case of a Haddon Township father accused of killing his 3-year-old son and leaving his body in the woods, a judge said Monday.

David "D.J." Creato Jr. was charged a year ago with murder and endangering the welfare of a child. Camden County prosecutors said he killed his son, Brendan, to stop his then-17-year-old girlfriend from leaving him because she did not like children.

A police dog found Brendan's pajama-clad body slumped over a rock about three-quarters of a mile from his father's apartment just before 9 a.m. on Oct. 13, 2015.

Creato had called 911 nearly three hours earlier to report his son missing, saying he had woken up and found Brendan was gone.

Creato, 23, appeared at a brief hearing Monday in Superior Court in Camden in a red jumpsuit. His lawyer, Richard J. Fuschino Jr., said that a pathologist he consulted was still preparing a report and that he needed more time before a trial.

Judge John T. Kelley set the start date for the week of April 10.

"I don't anticipate any further delays," Kelley said.

Prosecutors have said that Brendan died of "homicidal violence" and that an examination of his brain showed an abnormality consistent with oxygen deprivation that can be caused by asphyxiation, drowning, or strangulation.

The exact cause of death was never determined, however. Three doctors who performed separate autopsies were unable to identify it.

Fuschino has accused the doctors of running a sloppy investigation.

Prosecutors said Creato's girlfriend - who was not identified in court but has been publicly identified as Julia Stensky, now 19 - told him he would have to stop spending time with Brendan to be with her. They met in June 2015 on Tinder, authorities said.

The girlfriend was away at college when Brendan died and has not been charged, authorities said.

Brendan's mother, Samantha Denoto, did not live with Creato at the time of their son's death.


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