Teen’s lawyer seeks footage after Italian officer’s slaying
ROME (AP) — The lawyer for one of two American teens jailed in Rome on suspicion of the slaying of a Carabinieri officer said Tuesday he has asked investigators to obtain all possible video footage of the area of the attack.
Roberto Capra his 19-year-old client, Finnegan Lee Elder, detained for allegedly stabbing to death officer Mario Cerciello Rega, is aiming to shed greater light on what happened.
“We made an official request to capture all the footage from the area,” Capra said, speaking outside the hotel where forensic experts have again inspected the hotel room where Elder was staying with his friend, Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, on the night of the attack.
The two California teens have been jailed while prosecutors probe the July 26 slaying of Cerciello Rega, who was investigating an alleged drug deal gone wrong involving the teens.
Prosecutors contend that Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega to death while Natale-Hjorth scuffled with the officer’s partner during a rendezvous organized by the teens to obtain money and cocaine in exchange for a backpack they had snatched. The backpack belonged to an Italian man suspected of being an intermediary in the drug deal, who called the Carabinieri asking them to intervene.
Capra said Tuesday that the teens’ room inspection was not as relevant as footage of what actually happened at the time of the officer’s slaying, “because that is the moment that needs to be clarified.”
Investigators have said that both teens admitted their roles in Cerciello Rega’s death. Under Italian law, anyone who participated in a slaying can face murder charges even if they did not themselves kill the victim.
In an exclusive interview with Italian daily Corriere della Sera published Tuesday, Natale-Hjorth’s Italian-born father said his son didn’t know that Cerciello Rega was dead as he ran away following the scuffle with the Carabinieri officers.
Fabrizio Natale added that his son told him that he doesn’t use drugs and was just accompanying his high school friend Elder to the meeting.
“He was there, he made a mistake, but he’s not an assassin,” he said in the interview.
Both teens have told investigators that they didn’t know that the two officers were Carabinieri as they were in plain clothes and didn’t identify themselves. But their version contradicts that of Cerciello Rega’s partner, who said they both showed their badges when they confronted the teens.
The lawyers for both men have petitioned a court for their release.