One of American Teens Accused of Killing Italian Police Officer Claims Self-Defense, Saying He Feared He Was Being ‘Strangled’ and Felt ‘Pressure on His Neck’

  • Italian Judge Chiara Gallo said that Finnegan Lee Elder, one of the American teens accused of and jailed for the murder of Italian police officer  Mario Cerciello Rega, said “he stabbed the plainclothes officer because he feared he was being strangled.”
  • According to Gallo’s order that upheld the incarceration of California residents 19-year-old Elder and 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, Elder said he stabbed Cerciello Rega “after he felt pressure on his neck.”
  • However, Gallo pointed out that Elder didn’t have any indicative marks of strangulation on his neck. Cerciello Rega was stabbed 11 times
  • Gallo said that Natale-Hjorth told authorities that Elder told him back at their hotel that he used a knife in the attack and then washed it off.
  • Cerciello Rega was stabbed repeatedly during an alleged drug deal that went wrong in which the judge said the U.S. teens had a “total absence of self-control” and are “highly dangerous.”
  • According to investigators, Elder allegedly stabbed “the policeman during a struggle after Cerciello Rega and his partner, both plainclothes officers, identified themselves as police. The officers were following up on a report of a drug deal that allegedly involved the teens.”
  • Additionally, authorities say that Natale-Hjorth repeatedly punched the other plains-clothes officer, but he wasn’t seriously hurt.
  • On Saturday, police say that both suspects confessed to participating in the murder, and “under Italian law, anyone who participated in a slaying can face murder charges.”
  • 35-year-old Cerciello Rega’s funeral was held on Monday where he was honored as a hero in his hometown near Naples.
  • Italian police are under pressure and “investigating both Natale-Hjorth’s illegal blindfolding before his interrogation after Friday’s slaying and who leaked the photo of him blindfolded.”
  • On Sunday, Italian newspapers published the photo of the suspect with what looks like a scarf tied around Natale-Hjorth’s face, covering his eyes while his arms are handcuffed behind his back.
  • On Sunday, an Italian police commander said the officer who placed the blindfold made a “mistake,” and did it “to prevent Natale-Hjorth from seeing documents related to the investigation.”

Reference Links

  • AP: Italy judge: teen claims he knifed officer in self-defense READ
  • NBC: American teens suspected of stabbing to death Italian policeman remain in custody READ
  • Newser: Pic of US Teen Accused of Killing Italian Cop Raises Eyebrows READ
  • CBS: U.S. teens face possible life in prison as Italian cop murdered in Rome mourned READ

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