Two American students were sentenced to life imprisonment in Italy after one of them, had stabbed undercover police to death.

According to New York Post, a court in Rome has found Finnegan Lee Elder, 21, and his co-defendant Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, 20, guilty of all charges in a trial that was held on April 29.

The charges filed were homicide, attempted extortion, and other criminal offenses after a botched drug deal that led to the death of Vice Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega.

Fox News said that the killing took place in 2019 after the two Americans were scammed in an attempt to buy cocaine while on vacation in Rome. They paid almost $100 for the alleged drugs that were actually crushed medicine tablets.

Elder's family lawyer Craig Peters told that the two seized a backpack from the dealers that contained a phone that was used in an attempt to get their stolen money back. A meeting set by Elder and Hjorth was then arranged outside their hotel but the drug dealers reported the stolen bag to the police instead.

Cops, disguised in plain clothing showed up in the attempted exchange. Elder, who had no idea they were scammed by the drug dealers again, stabbed officer Rega with a 7-inch combat knife to death.

Elder claimed that police attacked him and Hjorth and that they only acted out of self-defense. But a witness claimed that none of the officers had drawn a weapon at the scene.

Rega, 35, and his partner Andrea Varriale were called to duty during that day and had investigated the “extortion attempt”. During the trial, the two defendants had described them as “thugs” that attacked them on the street. They had also no idea they were undercover police officers.

Elder added during the trial that he was afraid the “heavy-set” victim was going to strangle him before he stabbed him repeatedly.

Meanwhile, his co-defendant Hjorth was found guilty of the same charges after hiding the used murder weapon. Under Italian law, a person who had helped a killer commit a crime will be sentenced to murder as well.

Elder was said to be traveling around Europe when he and Hjorth decided to meet up. "Finnegan had kind of been struggling in life and trying to figure what he was going to do," Peters said.

Finnegan Lee Elder & Gabriel Natale-Hjorth
US Finnegan Lee Elder (R) and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth (L), the two men accused of the killing of an Italian Carabinieri police officer, attend a hearing during their trial in Rome, on March 1, 2021. - Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth are on trial over the killing of Mario Cerciello Rega, who was in plain clothes when he was slain in a night drug bust on July 26, last year. The two face life sentences if found guilty of knowingly killing a police officer. Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

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