Who is Gabriel Natale-Hjorth?
Gabriel Natale-Hjorth is one of the two American students who have been sentenced to life in prison by a court in Rome for killing an Italian police officer. After almost 13 hours of deliberation, a jury convicted Finnegan Elder, 21, and Natale-Hjorth for killing officer Cerciello Rega, 35.
Rega had only just returned to duty after his honeymoon when he was stabbed to death on a street in central Rome in July 2019. Elder stabbed Rega 11 times after a botched drug sting and Natale-Hjorth helped him with hiding the murder weapon, the jury found.
An Italian jury has found two Americans, Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 20, guilty in the July 2019 killing of an Italian police officer, sentencing them to life in prison. https://t.co/qMPmQR3Rn7
— ABC News (@ABC) May 6, 2021
How old is Gabriel Natale-Hjorth?
Gabriel Natale-Hjorth is 20 years old as of the year 2021.
Gabriel Natale-Hjorth Parents
Both the defendants have said that they didn’t know the Carabinieri paramilitary officer was a cop and claimed they acted in self-defense.
Elder looked stunned when the verdict was read out on Wednesday night, May 5. During a brief court appearance earlier on May 5, Elder’s parents were in court as was Natale-Hjorth’s uncle. Rega’s widow, Rosa Maria Esilio, broke down in tears in court after hearing the verdict.
The case has attracted plenty of attention in Italy, in part because it is exceedingly rare for tourists to be charged with violent crimes. The carabinieri officer, Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, had been a newlywed and was hailed as a hero after his death, honored with a state funeral.
Then-Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called his “broken life” a deep national wound.
Finnegan Elder and Gabriel Natale Hjorth
Rega, 35, and a partner were called to investigate an extortion attempt after Elder and Natale-Hjorth allegedly stole a cell phone from a street cocaine dealer who had taken their money without supplying drugs. The then-teenagers used the phone to set up a meeting to get their money back, the court heard.
The young boys said they thought that Rega and his partner Andrea Varriale, who both wore plainclothes, were thugs who were attacking them on a dark street when the deadly fight ensued. The students then fled the scene but were traced the very next day after police found the knife used to kill Rega.
The incident took place when Natale-Hjorth was visiting Italian relatives near Rome when he met Elder, who was traveling through Europe, on 26 July 2019. Both the teenagers were from California and went to the same school. Elder, who was traveling with an 18cm (7in) combat knife in his suitcase, and Natale-Hjorth said they mistook the officers for criminals out to get them and acted in self-defense.
On the day of the murder, the students had contacted a middleman to buy cocaine in Trastevere, a popular nightlife area. The middleman took the teenagers to a drug dealer, who charged them €80 ($96.2) for “cocaine” but sold them aspirin instead.
While retaliating, they took the middleman’s bag, which had his mobile phone, and fled before allegedly demanding a cash ransom and cocaine to return the bag. The middleman arranged to meet the pair in the Prati district. He had also contacted the police to report the theft, and the two officers went to the site.
Ethan Elder San Francisco LinkedIn
Elder described a scene in which he was defending himself against a person who had shown no ID and was trying to “strangle or choke me.” On the stand, Elder’s mother testified about receiving a video call from her son right after his arrest, in which he had called the situation “really, really bad.” Elder said his nephew had dealt with drug problems in high school and afterward. He’d attended a year of community college in San Diego before coming to Europe.
He’d met up in Rome with Natale-Hjorth, whom he knew from high school.
All across Europe, he’d carried a seven-inch combat knife — something he had purchased in California.
Elder said his nephew had become “very paranoid, and the reasons for that I am not exactly sure of.” In testimony, the defendant’s mother also described mental health issues and said her son had attempted suicide one year before the killing.
After the trial had begun, Finnegan Elder apologized in court for the killing and said he was “filled with remorse.”