Italian prosecutor seeks life in prison for two young Americans accused of killing Italian police officer in central Rome
ROME – An Italian prosecutor requested on Saturday a life sentence for two young Americans accused of killing an Italian police officer in central Rome.
Prosecutor Maria Sabina Calabretta asked the court to find the two defendants – Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20, guilty and to impose the maximum Italian sentence for the death of Deputy Brigadier General Maria Cerciello Rege. On July 26, 2019, Calabretta called the stabbing of a police officer “disproportionate and deadly.”
The closing arguments of the defense should be presented at the beginning of March 18, before the court passes a verdict and sentence.
Elder’s lawyer said that he was not surprised that the prosecutor requested life sentences.
“Unfortunately, we did not expect anything different, given the anomalies we saw during this investigation aimed at presenting the facts in a different way from the way they evolved,” said attorney Renato Borzone.
The two Americans were on vacation in Rome, when they were confronted by a pair of carabinieri officers in civilian clothes, which the tourists thought would be a meeting with a mediator in the failed cocaine business.
The senior called for self-defense, testifying this month that he stabbed the victim for fear he would be strangled by the bully.
Cerciello Rega, 35, and his partner were assigned to respond to what prosecutors allege Americans tried to extort small-scale extortion after friends paid for cocaine they did not receive. In retaliation, the Americans snatched the backpack of the broker with his phone and set up a meeting to replace him for the 80 euros ($ 96) they lost in a bad drug deal.
Cerciello Rege’s partner, Andrea Varriale, testified that he tried to prevent his partner from spilling out like a “fountain”. The killed officer, who was unarmed, was stabbed 11 times.
Varriale also testified that he heard his partner shout “Carabinieri!” while the old man and Cerciello Rega fought in the street.
But Elder told the court he had not heard such a cry for identification.