Outrage over "Sopranos" actor verdict
The acquittal of Sopranos star Lillo Brancato today in the murder of a New York City cop sparked outrage and vitriol from the slain officers comrades.
The head of the police union called Brancato, 32, an animal and expressed satisfaction that he will remain behind bars at least until his next hearing in January. Brancato was convicted for attempted burglary in the December 2005 incident, which left Officer Daniel Enchautegui, 28, dead.
The only good thing is that this skunk is not walking out to spend Christmas with his family, said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmens Benevolent Association. The sad part is that neither is Daniel.
Brancato, who also appeared with Robert De Niro in A Bronx Tale, faces up to 15 years behind bars. If a judge sentences Brancato to the minimum of three years, he may get credit for time served because hes been imprisoned that long.
What message is this sending out to the New York City police officers today? said Yolanda Rosa Nazario, the victims sister.
After a night of drinking at a strip club, Brancato and his friend, Steven Armento, went to an acquaintances house in the Bronx looking for drugs and when no one answered, they tried to break into his basement apartment, cops say.
Enchautegui, who lived next door, came out to see what was going on and Armento shot and killed him with a .357 Magnum. Armento was convicted and is serving a life sentence. Brancato was charged with felony murder because the killing happened during the commission of a felony.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly called the verdict a disappointment.
We hope that the family and friends of Daniel Enchautegui find some comfort in the fact that at least one in the pair responsible for his death was convicted of murder, he said.Adam Mehrfar, a New York criminal lawyer, said a celebrity defendant will always have a different experience than someone who is unknown.
It plays into the equation for the defense attorney, the prosecutor and the jury, he said. It would be difficult, I would imagine, to completely disregard the fact that they may know the person in public. Their perception of that celebrity could work for or against him.
Paul Martin, also a New York criminal lawyer, said he was
surprised by the verdict.
It does seem a little inconsistent, he said.
Martin said Brancato had an advantage not because he is a celebrity, but because he was able to hire a top-notch legal defense team.
His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, who once represented former New York Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, said Brancato was relieved.
This will be a second chance for him in life, Tacopina said. Lillos committed to taking advantage of it.
The Associated Press contributed to this story