A New York jury acquitted actor Lillo Brancato Jr. of murder yesterday (Dec. 22) in the 2005 shooting death of 28-year-old off duty police officer Daniel Enchautegui, a charge that could have sent the “Bronx Tale” star to prison for life. Jurors instead convicted Brancato on a lesser charge of attempted burglary.
Brancato’s accomplice, Steven Armento, 48, who fired the weapon that killed Enchautegui, was convicted of first-degree murder in November and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In December 2005 Brancato, 32, and Armento broke into an apartment in hopes of stealing prescription drugs. After being awoken by the commotion Officer Enchautegui, who lived next door, came out to investigate. He was shot through the heart by Armento but managed to open fire, hitting Brancato twice and Armento six times.
During his trial Brancato’s defense team argued that he was unaware that Armento, 48, was carrying a weapon and did not directly take part in the killing.
Brancato’s sentencing is scheduled for January 9 where he faces anyway from 3 to 15 years in prison. District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said he would seek “the maximum sentence that the law allows,” but Brancato could walk out of jail a free man in a matter of week with credit for time served, he’s been imprisoned since his arrest 3 years ago.