Man charged with Brancato found guilty

October 31, 2008 7:24:07 AM PDT
A man accused with "Sopranos" actor Lillo Brancato of fatally shooting a police officer in the heart during a Bronx burglary has been convicted of murder.A jury found that Steven Armento "acted with intent to cause the death" of the young off-duty officer, Daniel Enchautegui, who intercepted the break-in on Dec. 10, 2005.

Armento, 51, of Yonkers, was convicted of first-degree murder while committing a felony. He faces life in prison without parole at his Nov. 14 sentencing.

The jurors in state Supreme Court in the Bronx reached their verdict on the second day of deliberations, after a two-week trial.

Authorities said Armento and Brancato broke into a basement apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking at a Yonkers strip club. Enchautegui, who lived next-door, came out to investigate at 5 a.m.

Seeing the men, the off-duty officer shouted: "Don't move!

Don't move!"

Prosecutors said Armento fired at the 28-year-old officer with a blast from his .357 Magnum, hitting him once in the heart. The dying officer fired back, striking and wounding both men.

A nurse's aide who testified said that in his hospital bed, Armento bragged about killing a police officer, saying the action would make him "a king in jail."

On Thursday, the jurors acquitted Armento on a separate charge of intentional murder of a police officer - a conviction some NYPD officers had hoped for.

The 32-year-old Brancato, who appeared in the 1993 movie "A Bronx Tale" with Robert De Niro as well as in "The Sopranos," is to be tried on second-degree murder charges next month.