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.

 ?? Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press ?? Finnegan Lee Elder (left) and codefendan­t Gabriel NataleHjor­th (right) sit before a Rome jury that found them guilty in the slaying of an Italian plaincloth­es police officer in 2019 in Rome.
Gregorio Borgia / Associated Press Finnegan Lee Elder (left) and codefendan­t Gabriel NataleHjor­th (right) sit before a Rome jury that found them guilty in the slaying of an Italian plaincloth­es police officer in 2019 in Rome.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA