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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Melissa Grace and Corky Siemaszko
New York Daily News

NEW YORK - A two-bit crook's attempt to escape punishment by claiming he killed an off-duty Bronx cop in self-defense got a dose of mercury poisoning Monday.
The judge presiding over Steve Armento's case said he would let the jury hear statements cops say he made about doctoring bullets with mercury. Those remarks also implicate his accused accomplice, "Sopranos" actor Lillo Brancato.
"He knows I slice the hollow-point bullets like a half an inch down so it disappears, so there's no ballistics," cops say Armento told them. "Lillo knows I slice the bullets, I put mercury in the bullets and I use wax to seal it."
But Supreme Court Justice Martin Marcus would not allow the most chilling part of the statement cops say Armento gave them two days after allegedly shooting Officer Daniel Enchautegui in a bungled burglary in December 2005.
"If the bullet doesn't kill you, the mercury will," Armento told detectives, police say.
At a pretrial hearing, the 51-year-old junkie said he didn't recall making any statements while recovering from the shots Enchautegui fired before he died.
Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottlieb said she didn't buy that.
"It's so far-fetched that nobody would know you do that - unless you do that," she said.
Armento and Brancato - addicts looking for pills after a night of partying - were breaking into a Pelham Bay home as Enchautegui approached them near dawn on Dec. 10, 2005, cops said.
After he was arrested, Armento did not deny shooting at Enchautegui. He even specified which bullets he used to kill the cop.
"The bullet I used was only sliced; it didn't have mercury in it," he said at the hospital, prosecutors contend.
The statement introduced in court does not explain why Armento, who cops say had a shooting range in his basement, defaced the bullets.
Armento is charged with first-degree murder. Jury selection begins this week. The trial could last six weeks.
Brancato, 32, a once-promising actor who made his screen debut as a teenager in Robert De Niro's "A Bronx Tale," also faces murder charges when he goes on trial Oct. 28.
Both men have rap sheets - Brancato for drugs and Armento's dating back 30 years for firearms, drugs and burglary charges.

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NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.
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NEW YORK (AP) -- 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.
Good.

On a related topic:

Although information is not exact, it would seem that "doping" bullets with liquid mercury with intent to poison someone is complete Hollywood fantasy. The amount of mercury that could be contained in a bullet is not nearly high enough to cause death, nor is liquid mercury a particularly poisonous form of the metal. Inhaled gaseous forms of mercury are far more harmful, ingested mercury has very little short-term effects. I guess these thugs did their ballistics research on IMBD.

I can remember the movie "Jaws II" where Roy Scheider put mercury or some other kind of poison in the tips of his bullets for "anti-shark" use. It seems a little unrealistic that the small amount of poison carried in the round with have any effect whatsoever on a 3-ton shark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
N.Y. man gets life sentence for slaying officer

By Denise Buffa
New York Post

NEW YORK - The junkie pal of "Sopranos" actor Lillo Brancato today was sentenced to life in prison without parole in the 2005 slaying of an off-duty Bronx cop.
Steven Armento, 51, appeared bored with the proceeding when the sentence was handed down by Bronx Supreme Cout Justice Martin Marcus.
On Oct. 30, after just six hours of deliberation, a jury of 10 women and two men convicted Armento of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Officer Daniel Enchautegui on Dec. 10, 2005.
The three-year NYPD veteran had been trying to stop Armento and Brancato from breaking into a neighbor's house in the Pelham Bay section of The Bronx to search for prescription drugs.
Armento fired at Enchautegui at almost point-blank range.
Before he died, the cop fired eight rounds at the two men - striking Armento six times and Brancato twice.
In demanding life without parole, the prosecution said that Armento cruelly sang "I Shot the Sheriff" in his hospital bed.
Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said in a statement, "Steven Armento is the type of animal for whom the death penalty was invented. His miserable life has only been spared by the inability of this state to pass a viable death penalty. Life without parole is the next best thing."
Brancato, 32, who played an aspiring mobster in "The Sopranos," goes on trial next Monday on second-degree murder charges.
The actor, who also starred in "A Bronx Tale," says he didn't know Armento had a gun.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Actor on trial in NYPD officer slaying

By Colleen Long
The Associated Press

NEW YORK Lillo Brancato Jr. was a young actor with a solid resume: He made his debut in 1993 in "A Bronx Tale" opposite Robert De Niro, went on to appear in more than a dozen movies and played a doomed mobster wannabe in HBO's "The Sopranos."
Now, however, at the age of 32, Brancato faces charges of second-degree murder and other crimes in the 2005 killing of police Officer Daniel Enchautegui. Jury selection for his trial begins Monday.
Brancato's real-life troubles began not long after he befriended Steven Armento, a reputed low-level Genovese crime family associate banished for drug addiction, prosecutors say. Then his life went into a tailspin with a pair of drug-related arrests and the death of Enchautegui.
Brancato drove himself and Armento to the home of Enchautegui's next-door neighbor and the pair broke in to steal prescription drugs, prosecutors said. When they were confronted by Enchautegui, who was off duty, Armento shot the officer. Brancato and Armento were both wounded.
Armento, 48, was convicted of first-degree murder Oct. 30 and was sentenced last week to life in prison without parole.
Brancato's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said his client's case is very different.
"Lillo didn't have a gun. Nor did he know anyone had a gun. Lillo was shot. Lillo wasn't burglarizing anyone's home," he said.
Family and friends of Brancato have said he was a good guy with a drug problem who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"He obviously had problems he kept well hidden, but that doesn't mean he should be held accountable for the actions of the man he was with, especially if that man was under the influence," former "Sopranos" castmate Chris Tardio wrote in an e-mail.
Brancato was discovered at age 15 at Jones Beach on a summer day by the casting director of "A Bronx Tale," directed by co-star De Niro.
He worked consistently through his teenage years with small roles in "Crimson Tide," and "Enemy of the State," but he never became a huge star. He appeared in half a dozen episodes of "The Sopranos" as soldier Matt Bevilaqua in 2000; his character was killed off in the mob hit's second season.
Along the way, Brancato had befriended Armento while dating one of his twin daughters.
In December 2005, prosecutors said, the actor and the older man decided while drinking at a strip club to break into the basement apartment in a hunt for Valium.
Armento, who had a lengthy rap sheet dating to 1979 that included convictions for possession of stolen property and attempted burglary, was armed with a .357-caliber handgun.
Enchautegui, who had just finished a late-night shift, heard glass breaking next door. He alerted his landlord, dialed 911 to report a possible burglary in progress, then grabbed his badge and a gun and went outside to investigate.
Enchautegui shouted "Police! Don't move!" Shots were fired. Enchautegui was struck once in the chest. Armento was hit six times. Brancato, who was unarmed, was shot twice.
Jurors in Armento's trial rejected prosecution arguments that he knew Enchautegui was a police officer, declining to convict him of first-degree murder of an officer. He was instead found guilty of first-degree murder while committing a felony.
Brancato's attorney says he's not criminally responsible for the shooting.
"We're looking forward, after three long years, for Lillo to get his day in court," Tacopina said. "It's a tragic case, it's tragic in a lot of ways. But that doesn't mean he's behind the crime."
Tardio wrote of the slain officer: "One life was already ruined. The jury will have the power to prevent that of another."

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
'Sopranos' actor cleared of killing cop

By Jim Fitzgerald
Associated Press

NEW YORK - A slain police officer's sister reacted with disgust after a jury cleared a former actor on "The Sopranos" of her brother's killing during a botched burglary three years ago.
Lillo Brancato Jr. on Monday was convicted of a lesser charge of attempted burglary. He faces from three to 15 years in prison; the former actor could get credit for time served because he has been behind bars nearly three years.
"What message is this sending out to the New York City police officers today? It's wrong," said Yolanda Rosa Nazario, sister of the victim.
Prosecutors said Brancato, 32, and accomplice Steven Armento broke into a basement apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking at a strip club in December 2005. Officer Daniel Enchautegui (En-chow-TAY'-gee), who lived next door and was off duty, came out to investigate.
Armento blasted the 28-year-old officer with his .357 Magnum, hitting him in the heart. The dying officer fired back, wounding both men. Armento was convicted earlier this year of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Brancato, who acknowledges problems with drugs and alcohol, said he was unaware Armento, 48, was carrying a weapon. He also argued he did not directly take part in the killing and was not armed.
During the gunbattle, Enchautegui was struck once and Armento was hit six times. Brancato, who drove the car to the apartment, was shot twice.
Brancato was led out of court in handcuffs. His sentencing is Jan. 9, and District Attorney Robert T. Johnson said he would seek "the maximum sentence that the law allows."
"This would not have happened if not for this animal's drug habit," said Patrolmen's Benevolent Association head Patrick Lynch. "The only good thing is that this skunk is not walking out to spend Christmas with his family. The sad part is that neither is Daniel."
Said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly: "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."
Brancato rose to fame in the 1993 movie "A Bronx Tale," playing a young kid from the neighborhood who is torn between two worlds and two men: a local mobster played by Chazz Palminteri and his straight-and-narrow bus-driver father, played by Robert De Niro.
Other roles followed, most notably a stint on the second season of "The Sopranos," where he played a bumbling aspiring mobster. His character carried out a series of low-level crimes for the New Jersey mob before being gunned down by Tony Soprano and his sidekick as he tearfully begged for his life.
During the trial, Brancato tried to deflect suggestions by the prosecution that his testimony - at times punctuated by vignettes about his drug-crazed downfall - was another acting job.
Brancato's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, said his client was relieved with the verdict. "There was never going to be smiles," he said. "This is not a case that warrants that."

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Lillo Brancato Jr. on Monday was convicted of a lesser charge of attempted burglary. He faces from three to 15 years in prison; the former actor could get credit for time served because he has been behind bars nearly three years.
So discusting.
 

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He had such a brilliant career..he was the kid named " C " in Deniros ' A Bronx Tale " and was in the Sopranos...what an idiot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Slain officer's sister upset with verdict

By Maria Alvarez
Newsday
NEW YORK - There will be no Christmas for Yolanda Rosa-Nazario, sister of slain New York Police Department officer Daniel Enchautegui. Her Lynbrook home is barren, without a sparkle or glint of Christmas cheer. She has not celebrated Christmas since her brother's murder in 2005, and this week, she got what feels like the final blow - the acquittal of one of her brother's accused killers, Lillo Brancato, 32, a former "Sopranos" actor.
After three months of trial proceedings that replayed her brother's murder, Rosa-Nazario said she is unable to move on with her life. She said she is in shock, and in a state of confusion pondering why jurors acquitted the actor and professed drug addict.
"The evidence was there. They let this guy get away with murder," said Rosa-Nazario, who sat in her living room gazing at the wall-size framed photograph of her dead brother.
Next to it is a photograph of their mother, Maria Rosa, who died Nov. 24, 2007. Their father, Pedro, died earlier that year. "They died of broken hearts. They deteriorated after my brother died.
"My brother was a good cop - a devoted cop. He loved his job and to get this not guilty verdict is sending the message that if you are a police officer and you see a crime don't perform your duty."
Prosecutors said Brancato and Steven Armento broke into a basement apartment to steal prescription drugs after a night of drinking. Enchautegui, 28, who lived next door, came out to investigate after he heard a window break.
Armento, who shot Enchautegui with his .357 Magnum, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. However, jurors had to be convinced Brancato broke into the apartment, and knew Armento was armed.
Brancato took the stand and told a story of a life of drug addiction and crime.
Rosa-Nazario said Brancato showed no remorse. "I was embarrassed for him. I can't believe the jurors didn't see that he was a murderer ... I'm angry."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said the jury made a decision and people have to live with it.
"I think anybody who thinks that the use of illegal drugs is an excuse - that you didn't know what you were doing, that you were unaware of the situation - is just so fundamentally wrong," said Kelly. "And that apparently is what the decision was based on, that this man, he didn't know the situation because of the drugs he ingested."
After the verdict, Brancato's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, said his client was relieved but "there was never going to be smiles. ... This is not a case that warrants that."
On Jan. 9, Brancato, who has served three years in jail, will be sentenced on attempted burglary, which carries a minimum of 3 1/2 years to 15 years.
"He can't walk out of there," Rosa-Nazario said, shaking her head and promising to be at the sentencing to represent her dead brother.

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