SOPRANOS star Lillo Brancato Jr's was visiting a friend and not breaking into a house the night he was shot during a stand-off with an off-duty policeman, according to his murder trial defence lawyer.
Officer Daniel Enchautegui was shot dead by Brancato's friend Steven Armento when he disturbed the pair, allegedly breaking into his neighbour's Bronx, New York home on 10 December 2005.
Armento was convicted by an earlier trial and sentenced to life in prison - but Brancato Jr, 32, is hoping to escape a guilty verdict by disputing a 'confession' cops claim he gave the night of the shooting.
Detective Claude O'Shea told the court on Monday (08Dec08) Brancato - who was shot and wounded by Enchautegui - nodded from his hospital bed when asked if he and Armento were committing a burglary.
O'Shea told jurors, "He shook his head yes."
He added that Brancato Jr. had told him the pair hatched the burglary plan after leaving a strip club, because they craved prescription drugs.
Brancato later insisted he was banging on a window and shouting a friend's name loudly when he and Armento were disturbed by Enchautegui.
And the 32-year-old's lawyer forced Detective O'Shea to concede the actor never verbally confessed. Cross-examining, Joseph Tacopina told O'Shea, "He never uttered or wrote the word 'burglary,' that was your characterisation." O'Shea replied, "Correct."
A jury must establish Brancato Jr. is guilty of burglary, in order to convict him of murder.
Earlier in the trial, the actor - who also played Robert De Niro's son in movie A Bronx Tale - told the jury he did not know Armento was carrying a gun on the night of the murder, a fact disputed by his former drug dealer, a witness for the prosecution. The trial continues.