San Francisco Chronicle
2 Bay Area men receive life sentences
A jury in Rome on Wednesday convicted two American friends in the 2019 slaying of a police officer in a drug sting gone awry, sentencing them to life in prison.
The jury deliberated more than 12 hours before delivering the verdicts against Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 20, handing them Italy’s stiffest sentence.
Elder and NataleHjorth were indicted on charges of homicide, attempted extortion, assault, resisting a public official and carrying an attackstyle knife without just cause.
The defendants were led immediately out of the courtroom.
The slain officer’s widow, who held a photo of her dead husband while waiting for the verdict, sobbed and hugged his brother, Paolo.
Prosecutors alleged that Elder stabbed Vice Bridgadier Mario Cerciello Rega 11 times with a knife he brought with him on his trip to Europe from California and that NataleHjorth helped him hide the knife in their hotel room.
Elder and NataleHjorth, schoolmates from Mill Valley, were 19 and 18, respectively, at the time of the July 26, 2019, incident. The slaying of the officer from the storied Carabinieri paramilitary police corps shocked Italy. Cerciello Rega, 35, was mourned as a national hero.