One of the two men charged with the murder of an off-duty police officer that interrupted a burglary in process on a quiet Pelham Bay street in December 2005 was found guilty by a Bronx jury.
Steven Armento, 51, of Yonkers, was found guilty of murder in the first degree on Thursday, October 30 in the shooting death of honorary Detective Daniel Enchautegui, a young NYPD officer who was shot once in the heart just before dawn on December 10, 2005 while investigating a break-in next door to his basement apartment at 3117 Arnow Place.
The jury found, after less than six hours of deliberations, that Armento had “acted with intent to cause death” by shooting Enchautengui and killing him during the course of or in furtherance of committing the crime burglary. Armento was acquitted of causing the death of a police officer acting in the course of performing professional duties.
“Although this guilty verdict serves the interest of justice, in can never compensate the family of the deceased for the tragic loss of there loved one’s life,” said District Attorney Robert Johnson. “We owe Officer Enchautegui’s family our gratitude for his years of service with honor on behalf of all of the Bronx.”
Armento is facing the maximum sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole,
Enchautengui was assigned to the 40th Precinct in Mott Haven.
Enchautengui was off-duty but stood guard over the neighbor’s house as he waited for police to respond to a 911 call on December 10, 2005. When the burglars, reputed gangster Stephen Armento, and an accomplice, actor Lillo Brancato who is currently awaiting trial for second-degree murder, apparently emerged from 3119 Arnow Avenue, the home of a deceased friend, Enchautengui confronted them, according to published reports.
The officer was wearing his shield and was shot once in the heart.
Brancato, 32, an actor who appeared in A Bronx Tale as well as The Sopranos, has been charged separately, and has not been convicted of any crime in relation to this case to date.
The corner of Westchester Avenue and Arnow Place was named in honor of Enchautengui in a ceremony where Mayor Michael Bloomberg heralded the slain officer as a “hero” and a “valiant man.”
The placing of the sign was the culmination of a six-month push by Community Affairs Officer Vic DiPierro of the 49th Precinct and Councilman Jimmy Vacca to ensure that there would be a permanent memorial to a heroic cop. Enchautegui’s family attended the unveiling.