Former Mill Valley high schoolers found guilty of killing Italian police officer

I was drawn to this story because of the wanton violence exported from America and inflicted on the citizen of another country.  When I learned the suspects attended the high school where I spent four years I was shocked.  

I never thought Tam High whose clock tower can be seen from Highway 101, well respected for its academic standards and beautiful campus, would send people like Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth into the adult world who could commit such a horrific crime.

San Francisco Chronicle 5.6.2021

A pair of high school friends from the wealthy Marin County enclave Mill Valley were found guilty Wednesday of stabbing an Italian police officer to death after a botched drug deal during a 2019 vacation in Rome.

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Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth on Trial in Italy -2021


A jury found Finnegan Lee Elder, 21. and his friend Gabriel Christian Natale Hjorth, 20, who met while students at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, guilty of homicide for repeatedly stabbing an Italian carabinieri officer, following a scuffle, and killing him on July 26, 2019, days after he returned from his honeymoon.

The Bay Area men, then 18, said they acted in self defense after being attacked by two men who did not identify themselves as police. The Associated Press reported the verdict from Rome. They were also found guity of attempted extortion, resisting a public official and carrying an attack style knife without just cause.

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Cerciello Rega and his bride on their wedding day

Murder carries a life sentence in Italy, which does not have a death penalty.

As the defendants were escorted out of the courtroom, Elder’sfather, Ethan Elder, called out, “Finnegan, I love you,” the Associated Press reported. The slain officer’s widow, who held a photo of her dead husband throughout the 14-month trial, sobbed and hugged his brother.

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Finnegan Lee Elder’s family in Mill Valley –  2019 

Police and prosecutors in Rome said the Marin men purchased what turned out to be fake drugs from an Italian man in Rome. When the two teenagers returned to the location, they allegedly stole the backpack of the man who had pointed them to the purported dealer and demanded 100 Euros and a gram of real cocaine in exchange for the backpack, according to polce.


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Funeral procession of slain Italian police officer Cerciello Rega – 2019

Varriale told investigators that both officers identified themselves as law enforcement and showed their badges, the Associated Press reported. But the two men said they did not and that the officers attacked them, forcing them to fight for their lives.

Elder admitted to stabbing Varriale but under Italian law, accomplices can also be charged with homicide. Natale Hjorth hid the knife in the ceiling panels of their hotel room after the stabbing, where it was later found by police, the AP reported.