Two American students were convicted of murdering an Italian police officer in a botched drug deal while on vacation and sentenced to life in prison.
The duo, Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, 20, were convicted by a jury in Rome this Wednesday who recommended life in prison sentence for the murder of Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, 35.
Reports say Elder stabbed Rega 11 times with a 7-inch blade on July 26, 2019, after a drug deal went awry while Natale-Hjorth, whom Elder knew from high school in Mill Valley, California, helped hide the knife.
The defendants maintained that they acted in self-defense when confronted by Rega and his partner adding they thought the cops were sent to attack them by a drug dealer who sold them fake cocaine.
The stabbing unfolded on July 26, 2019, after Natale-Hjorth and Elder tried to buy cocaine with 80 euros ($96) from a man outside the hotel where they were staying in Rome’s Trastevere nightlife district, but were sold a crushed-up bag of aspirin instead.
The pair then allegedly stole a bag belonging to the suspected drug dealer and demanded 100 euros and a gram of cocaine for him to get it back.
The man agreed and told the pair he would meet them to exchange the bag, but instead called the police to report the theft.
Rega and his partner, wearing plainclothes, were dispatched to the agreed meeting spot where they confronted the two Americans and identified themselves in Italian as police before Elder stabbed Rega.
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