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A New Trial Concerning The Deadly Stabbing Of A Rome Police Officer Has Begun For American Pals

Austin Police Department (Photo: Texas Monthly)

After Italy’s highest court overturned their convictions, a fresh trial for two American men who killed an Italian plainclothes police officer during a disastrous sting operation began on Friday.

What Happened?

Last year, the highest Cassation Court in Italy ordered a fresh trial, stating that there was insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendants, who spoke little or no Italian, knew they were dealing with Italian police when they went to meet an accused drug dealer in Rome.

Teenagers Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth sat next to each other during the opening statements of the appeals court judge’s fresh trial on July 26, 2019.

The Californian pals were given Italy’s highest punishment—life in prison—after being found guilty of the 2021 murder of Carabinieri Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega and four other crimes. On appeal, the sentences were lowered to 22 years for Natale-Hjorth and 24 years for Elder.

Attorneys said that Elder, who was 19 years old at the time, stabbed Cerciello Rega eleven times with a knife he had brought on his vacation to Europe, and that Elder’s accomplice, 18-year-old Natale-Hjorth, assisted Elder in concealing the knife in their hotel room. In his testimony, Natale-Hjorth stated that he struggled with Cerciello Rega’s accomplice and didn’t know about the stabbing until he hurried back to the hotel.

Teen Charged With Murder


Source: BBC News

When the two pals were confronted by the police, they had planned to meet a small-time drug dealer—who turned out to be a police informant—to retrieve money they had lost in a failed deal and return a rucksack they had stolen in reprisal.

Father says the teen charged with killing an Italian cop was unaware that his companion was armed. Natale-Hjorth and Elder were friends from school in northern California, and they were spending a few days together in Rome, where Natale-Hjorth lived with family.

Italians were devastated by the death of 35-year-old newlywed Cerciello Rega, and they mourned him as a national hero.

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