Actor Lillo Brancato Jr. was unaware his accomplice had a gun when they embarked on a desperate search for drugs on the night he was arrested for the killing of an off-duty police officer, his lawyers have claimed.
Former Sopranos star Brancato, 32, is charged with second-degree murder in the 2005 death of Officer Daniel Enchautegui.
According to police, the actor and his accomplice, Steven Armento, broke into an apartment in The Bronx, New York in 2005 to steal drugs after a night of drinking at a strip club.
Enchautegui, who lived next door, came out to investigate and Armento shot the 28-year-old officer in the heart.
The officer fired back, wounding both men, but he died from his injuries shortly afterwards.
Brancato's attorney, Joseph Tacopina, told the New York court the only culprit was Armento, who was convicted of first-degree murder on 30 October (08) and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.
In his opening argument, Tacopina denied Brancato ever entered the apartment, and said his client did not know Armento was armed.
He told the jury, "Lillo was there to satisfy his addiction. But he wasn't there to do violence - and that's important."
Prosecutors agreed Brancato suffered from a severe drug problem.
The actor faces life in prison if convicted of murder and burglary. The trial continues.