New York Post
December 23, 2008

SLAIN OFFICER'S KIN DEVASTATED BY THE VERDICT

By DENISE BUFFA, ANDY SOLTIS and ANDY GELLER

    DISBELIEF: Forlorn colleagues of tragic cop Daniel Enchautegui (above) leave court yesterday after Lillo Brancato was cleared of his murder, while...
  DISBELIEF: Forlorn colleagues of tragic cop Daniel Enchautegui (above) leave court yesterday after Lillo Brancato was cleared of his murder, while...
  Enchautegui's sister, Yolanda Nazario, is comforted by husband Sergio.
    Enchautegui's sister, Yolanda Nazario, is comforted by husband Sergio.

The sister of slain Bronx cop Daniel Enchautegui had waited three long years for this moment.

But when it came, Yolanda Rosa Nazario could only shake her head in disbelief.

MORE: Lillo Beats Cop-Murder Rap

Lillo Brancato, whose pal had blown away her brother early the morning of Dec. 10, 2005, had beaten a murder rap.

Not only that, he might be sentenced to time served and walk out of jail soon.

"I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed," Nazario said, her voice cracking.

"What message is this sending out to the New York City police officers today? It's wrong."

Shaking her head, she said Brancato was guilty of murder and should be sentenced to life behind bars.

Her husband, Sergio Navarro, said if it wasn't for Brancato's need for drugs, the brave cop might still be alive.

Patrolmen's Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch echoed Navarro's words.

"This would not have happened if not for this animal's drug habit," he said. "The only good thing is that this skunk is not walking out to spend Christmas with his family. The sad part is that neither is Daniel."

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said, "We hope that the family and friends of Daniel Enchautegui find some comfort in the fact that at least one of the pair responsible for his death was convicted of murder."

While Brancato might leave jail soon, one legal expert says don't bet on it.

"Where he would otherwise be a candidate for a break, the judge will not ignore the circumstances - that a police officer was killed," said Eugene O'Donnell, professor of law and police studies at John Jay College.

In addition, the judge may feel the jury made an error in acquitting Brancato on the murder charge, he said.

And Tinseltown watchers say Brancato may have beaten the slay rap, but it won't help him get his career back.

"I mean, who would hire him? Who would insure him? He has zero chance. Is there a number less than zero?" said Hollywood PR maven Michael Levin, who has represented stars like Michael Jackson and Barbra Streisand.

Additional reporting by David K. Li

denise.buffa@nypost.com