Opening statements given in Lillo Brancato Jr. trial

Posted: Updated:

A prosecutor at the murder trial of Lillo Brancato Jr. told jurors Monday the former "Sopranos" actor got involved in the killing of an off-duty police officer during a desperate mission to steal drugs.

But the defense, in opening statements at the Bronx County Hall of Justice, said that the only culprit was the man already convicted in the shooting.

Brancato faces a second-degree murder charge in the 2005 killing of off-duty police Officer Daniel Enchautegui in the Bronx. Brancato's co-defendant, Steven Armento, was convicted of first-degree murder Oct. 30 and later sentenced to life in prison without parole.

"Lillo was there to satisfy his addiction. But he wasn't there to do violence - and that's important," Joseph Tacopina, Brancato's attorney, said in his opening statement.

Many of Enchautegui's former colleagues at the NYPD were unmoved by the rationale presented by the defense.

"Just because you're a junkie and you think you have a problem, does not give you the right to take the life of a New York City police officer," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolman's Benevolent Association.

Defense attorneys said they're not sure if Brancato will testify during the trial, which they expect to last three weeks. Testimony is expected to continue Tuesday.

AP wire services contributed to this report.

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