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The Court of Assizes of Appeal of Rome reduced the penalties for Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale Hjorth, the two American citizens responsible for the murder of the carabiniere Mario Cerciello Rega, which took place in Rome in July 2019, who in the first instance had both been sentenced to life imprisonment. On appeal Elder was sentenced to 24 years in prison and Natale Hjorth 22 years.
In the appeal process, the Attorney General had asked for confirmation of the life sentence for Elder, who had materially stabbed Cerciello Rega, and to reduce the sentence to 24 years for Natale Hjorth, accused instead of complicity in murder. The defense lawyers had instead asked for absolution in self-defense for Elder and for not having committed the crime for Natale Hjorth.
The murder of Cerciello Rega dates back to the night between 25 and 26 July, when Elder and Hjorth, both Californians, tried to buy drugs in Trastevere by contacting an intermediary, Sergio Brugiatelli, who in turn took them to another person, Italo Pompei. The latter sold them a Tachipirina tablet as a hard drug. Elder and Hjorth then decided to steal Brugiatelli’s backpack and then propose an exchange to get back the money they had already paid.
At the meeting for the return of the backpack, however, the carabiniere Mario Cerciello Rega showed up with a colleague, Andrea Varriale, after receiving a report for the theft of the backpack. They were both unarmed. During the meeting a fight began in which Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega eleven times, killing him.