SOPRANOS actor Lillo Brancato Jr. was a regular visitor to the house he is accused of breaking into the night he was shot during a stand-off with an off-duty policeman - according to a defence witness at his murder trial.
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 at an earlier trial and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Brancato - who was shot and wounded by Enchautegui - is attempting to escape a guilty verdict by challenging police claims he was committing a burglary at the time of the shooting.
Under New York State law, Brancato cannot be convicted of murder unless they are sure he was robbing the house.
Earlier in the trial the 32-year-old's defence disputed an alleged burglary confession made at his hospital bed in the aftermath of the shooting, and on Thursday (11Dec08) a longtime friend of the actor testified that she and Brancato had regularly visited the house, and had been given free reign of the property by its owner Kenny Scavotti.
Jenny Farley told the court, "We'd go through the garage or through the front door."
Other witnesses told police they heard someone shout Scavotti's name after the shooting took place.
The defence claims this is proof Brancato believed his friend was at the house and was calling for help.
The prosecution questioned the friendship, pointing out that Brancato didn't know Vietnam veteran Scavotti had been dead for four months. The trial continues.