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Sopranos actor faces murder charges

Actor Lillo Brancato Jr from The Sopranos has fallen from the heights of a promising Hollywood career to the lowest of criminal behavior – charges of murder and other crimes in the 2005 murder of an NYPD police officer.

Off-duty officer Daniel Enchautegui was shot in the chest and killed during a robbery. Brancato and friend Steven Armento had decided to break into the basement apartment next door to the fallen officer’s home seeking Valium. During the ensuing gun battle, Armento was shot twice and Brancato once.

Brancato Jr got his start opposite Robert DeNiro in A Bronx Tale

Armento, the only one of the duo who was armed, was convicted of first-degree murder last month and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Brancato’s lawyers say he is not criminally responsible for the death, and at least one former castmate agrees.

“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 actor Chris Tardio wrote in an e-mail.

Brancato made his film debut at the age of 15 in the 1993 film A Bronx Tale opposite Robert De Niro, which he followed up with roles in Crimson Tide, and Enemy of the State. He appeared in approximately six episodes of The Sopranos in 2000 before his character was killed off in the second season.

November 20, 2008

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