U.S. teen accused of killing Italian officer didn’t know friend was armed, father said

International

In this combo photo released by Italian Carabinieri, Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, right, and Finnegan Lee Elder, sit in their hotel room in Rome. Two American teenagers were jailed in Rome on Saturday as authorities carry out a murder investigation in the killing of Italian police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35. A detention order issued by prosecutors was shown on Italian state broadcaster RAI, naming the suspects as Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth and Finnegan Lee Elder. (Italian Carabinieri via AP)

The fathers of two American teenagers accused of killing an Italian police officer are now in Rome. Gabriel Natale-Hjorth and Finnegan Elder are accused of stabbing officer Mario Cerciello Rega and could face life in prison if convicted. 

Natale-Hjorth’s father visited him in prison Wednesday writing, afterward, “my meeting with Gabriel… was emotional… and hard for both of us,” adding, “Gabriel never imagined there would be a confrontation and did not know his friend was armed.” Authorities say both teens are responsible for the killing. In Italy, someone can be charged for murder if they were involved, regardless of whether the person carried out the slaying.

Outside the prison, Thursday morning, Natale-Hjorth’s lawyer told CBS News his client is “very young and very emotionally stressed.” He also said that when he visited his client at the prison earlier this week the teenager “cried the entire time.”

Finnegan Elder’s father, Ethan, said nothing when he arrived at the prison Thursday morning amid a swarm of reporters. His son has confessed, investigators say, to killing the Carabinieiri officer who was stabbed 11 times following a botched drug deal and extortion attempt carried out by Elder and his former high school schoolmate, Gabriel Natale-Hjorth.

Police said Elder stabbed the officer with a 7-inch long, military-grade knife which he brought to Italy from the U.S. A photo apparently posted on social media and widely circulated shows Elder posing with a knife. Both teenagers had been drinking on the night of the killing, according to police, and at least one had also been doing drugs.

The Carabinieiri officer forgot his service weapon that Friday morning, when he was called to investigate that alleged extortion attempt in which police say the teens tried to get money and cocaine in exchange for a bag they’d stolen.

Authorities said both teens are responsible for the killing. In Italy, someone can be charged for murder if they were involved, regardless of whether the person carried out the slaying.

Mario Cerciello Rega
In this photo released by Carabinieri, is portrayed officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, who was stabbed to death in Rome early Friday, July 26, 2019. Italian police said Saturday that two 19-year-old American tourists have confessed to fatally stabbing the Italian paramilitary policeman who was investigating the theft of a bag with a cellphone.

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