THE BRONX - A mistrial was avoided Thursday in the murder trial of Lillo Brancato Jr. after juror number 12 was dismissed from the case for taking notes during testimony and doing research at home.
The jury, which began deliberating Wednesday, started over Thursday. Brancato agreed to allow an alternate juror, Ms. Rodriguez, to substitute for the original juror, Marvin Gittens, who was dismissed. If Brancato had said no to the substitution, a mistrial would have been declared.
The jurors reviewed evidence Thursday afternoon after an emotional day in court Wednesday night. After the presiding judge dismissed the jury on Wednesday, the sister of slain Police Officer Daniel Enchautegui jumped up and faced Brancato, saying that she cannot look at him any longer. The woman then tried to leave the courtroom, but was held back by her children, who were also present at the hearing.
Brancato faces a second-degree murder charge in the shooting death of Enchautegui, who was killed after he tried to stop Brancato and Steven Armento from allegedly breaking into the home of his Pelham Bay neighbor in 2005.
Armento has already been convicted of murder in the officer?s death and sentenced to life in prison.
?Regardless of whose side you?re on, it?s a New York City police officer that?s dead,? says PBA President Pat Lynch.
AP wire reports contributed to this article.
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