Lillo Brancato Jr. has been acquitted in the 2005 killing an off-duty New York City police officer but found guilty of attempted burglary. The actor from The Sopranos and A Bronx Tale could still be sentenced to 15 years in prison for the lesser offense.
It was still a good day for Brancato, 32, who was also acquitted of two counts of burglary.
Police officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, was shot by Brancato’s friend Steven Armento, 51, and Brancato insisted that he did not know that Armento was carrying a .357 magnum.
The key to this acquittal was that Brancato testified. Often lawyers in such cases will keep their clients off the stand in fear of the withering cross examination and the possibility of opening the door to suppressed evidence or expanded examinations. However, it was essential for the jury to hear from Brancato, who did well on the stand. An actor’s training is not a small benefit in such appearances.
The next problem will be sentencing. In cop killing cases, courts tend to be harsh on sentencing, particularly if you dodge the most serious offenses.
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