Lillo Brancato Jr., who had a few moments of fame when he starred in A Bronx Tale and appeared in episodes of The Sopranos, tried to explain to a jury that he was not responsible for the murder of an off-duty police officer three years ago. Instead, Brancato chalked up his actions to being "dope sick"—a real junkie that "even my hair was hurting."
In December 2005, Brancato (pictured) and friend Steven Armento were attempting to steal prescription drugs from a friend's home in the Bronx. Previously, the Post reported, "Brancato had hoped to extend their high with drugs from friend Kenny Scovotti - apparently ignorant of the fact that Scovotti had been dead for months and that the door would be locked." When their break-in got noisy, they left to find drugs elsewhere, but their unsuccessful attempt brought them back to Scovotti's house.
This time, police officer Daniel Enchautegui confronted them, and Armento shot him. Enchautegui managed to fire back, hitting both men, before dying. Armento was found guilty of the cop's murder last month.
Since Brancato did not fire the gun, prosecutors have to prove he committed burglary in order for him to be found guilty of murder. During his testimony yesterday, the NY Times reports, "Mr. Brancato insisted in court that, for years, he had been a welcome guest at the house of the drug supplier, Kenneth Scovotti, free to enter at will, and was just trying to wake him up by banging on a window." (He just had no idea that Scovotti was dead.) Brancato, who is 32, said he regularly would enter Scovotti's place through the garage, "I'd done it many times before. Permission was never revoked."
Brancato also detailed that he started using drugs when he was 16 and filming A Bronx Tale; by 2005, he was using heroin and crack regularly, "You find yourself between a rock and hard place because it you don't do it, you're all aches and pains - and if you do do it, you're just digging yourself a deeper hole." The assistant prosecutor implied Brancato, who was shot twice, was following a "script." Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch said, "He's acting on the stand just like he did in the movies," but Brancato's lawyer Joe Tacopina said, "That's not a role up there. That was his life."