Late Wednesday, a jury in Rome found Finnegan Lee Elder, 21 and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20 guilty of stabbing Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega to death in July 2019. They were both given life sentences in prison.
On the night of the killing, the pair bought what they thought was cocaine but turned out to be aspirin. When they realized they had been duped, they snatched the middleman’s backpack, identified as Sergio Brugiatelli, then arranged a meeting near their hotel to exchange the bag in return for the money they gave the drug dealer.
Sergio tipped off the police, and plainclothes officers Cerciello Rega and his partner, Andrea Varriale, met Elder and Natale-Hjorth at the swap.
After a fight broke out, Cerciello Rega was stabbed 11 times with a 7-inch military-style attack knife. The knife was found concealed inside a ceiling panel in the boy’s hotel room, and police said Elder admitted to being the owner.
Elder and Natale-Hjorth claimed they acted in self-defense and that the officers did not identify themselves as police — a claim Varriale denied.
Their trial, which began in February 2020, was delayed by coronavirus lockdowns.
Regarding the sentence Prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta stated in court; “Life imprisonment is not a trophy to be exhibited but a just penalty. … In the face of such tragic facts, nobody wins, and nobody loses.
The crime: Report from 2019