Two Americans have been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of a Rome police officer.

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On Wednesday, an Italian jury found two Americans guilty of the 2019 murder of a police officer in Rome and sentenced them to life in jail.

Finnegan Elder, 21, of San Francisco, and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20, of Marin County, Calif., were both sentenced to death for the murder of Deputy Brig. Cerciello Rega, 35.

 

The Washington Post reported the verdict is likely to be appealed.

Rega died from stab wounds in what was described as a botched drug deal. On July 26, 2019, he was stabbed eight times at a hotel where the two Americans were sleeping.

Rega and his wife were attempting to recover a backpack that Finnegan Elder and Natale-Hjorth had taken during a botched drug deal.

The backpack belonged to a guy the two men had encountered earlier that evening and who had acted as a middleman for them and a drug dealer.

Shortly after Rega’s murder, the young men were apprehended.

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Finnegan Elder testified that he did not know Rega was a police officer and that he and Natale-Hjorth acted in self-defense.

Ethan Elder, Finnegan Elder’s father, told KABC-TV in Los Angeles that he spoke to his son last week.

“Dad, I know I should do some time for what happened,” Ethan Elder said his son told him. “I stupidly brought a knife to Rome. But I didn’t attack and tackle anyone from behind them at 3 in the morning.”

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