Brancato's supporters, opponents react to acquittal

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Family and friends of actor Lillo Brancato Jr. reacted with relief to his acquittal of second-degree murder in the shooting death of an off-duty police officer, and now they hope Brancato will turn his life around.

?From Brancato?s family?s point of view, this [is] about the horrors of drug addiction,? says the actor?s long-time friend Corey Rabin. ?When you have that problem, you do things, go places you never might have.?

Brancato himself admitted on the witness stand that he was on a desperate and drunken hunt for drugs, which led him and his ex-girlfriend?s father, Steven Armento, to break into his friend?s house in Pelham Bay. When Officer Daniel Enchautegui, who lived next door, confronted the two men, Armento shot the off-duty officer to death.

Brancato, however, insisted he did not know Armento was armed. On Monday, the jury believed him, convicting the actor only of an attempted burglary charge. He faces a minimum of three years in prison, but could get credit for time already served.

?I think Lillo is a warm, wonderful kid,? Corey says. ?Hopefully, he'll get a chance to show what I know he wants to do.?

However, the slain officer?s family and NYPD representatives were outraged by the verdict.

?We're obviously frustrated [the] jury didn't see what was plain and simple,? says PBA President Patrick Lynch. ?Because of this animal and his drug habit, it got to the point [where] an officer was killed; it wouldn't have happened if not for him.?

Jurors later said they based their decision on messy police work and inconclusive evidence.

For courthouse reactions to acquittal of Lillo Brancato, go to your digital cable box and select iO Extra, Channel 612.

Juror tossed out in Brancato murder trial

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