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    Sopranos Actor Cleared of Cop Killing

    Lillo Brancato Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

    Lillo Brancato's Bronx tale had a bittersweet ending. 

    The former Sopranos actor, who also starred in the Robert De Niro-directed A Bronx Tale in 1993, was found not guilty Monday of second-degree murder in the 2005 shooting of an off-duty New York City police officer.

    Brancato, 32, who has struggled with drug problems over the past decade, showed little emotion as the verdict was read.

    But while he was also acquitted of two burglary-related charges, he was convicted on one count of attempted burglary and could get up to 15 years in prison for smashing a window in an attempt to pilfer painkillers from an acquaintance's house in the Bronx.

    Sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 9. Brancato is facing a minimum of three years behind bars, but he could get credit for time served. He has been in police custody as of two days after the shooting.

    The onetime up-and-comer was not accused of pulling the trigger of the gun that killed NYPD officer Daniel Enchautegui in the early hours of Dec. 10, 2005, but prosecutors argued that he played a major role in the felony burglary that led to the 28-year-old cop's death.

    Enchautegui lived next door to the house where the break-in was taking place and had gone outside to investigate. He wounded both intruders with his service weapon after being shot once in the chest.

    Steven Armento, who fired the .357 Magnum that killed Enchautegui, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison last month.

    "We're obviously frustrated today that the jury did not see what was plain and simple," Patrick J. Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, told the New York Times.

    Brancato's team had argued that the fallen star, drunk and going through withdrawal, had broken the window out of desperation to get his hands on narcotics.

    "I was becoming dope sick," Brancato testified at one point during the four-week-long trial. "Mentally, I was a mess."

    "This will be a second chance for him in life," defense attorney Joseph Tacopina told reporters outside the courthouse today. "Lillo's committed to taking advantage of it."

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