ROME—It has been nearly one year since 35-year-old Italian Carabinieri police officer Mario Cerciello Rega was fatally stabbed 11 times on a dark street corner in central Rome, allegedly at the hands of Bay Area teens Finnegan Elder, then 19, and Gabe Hjorth Natale, then 18.
But what might have seemed a slam-dunk case against the Americans based on evidence presented in the pre-pandemic hearings has now taken a twist after it was discovered that prosecutors held back crucial evidence about the events leading up to the fateful night last July.
The Americans were in Rome for a party weekend and had bought what they thought was cocaine from Italo Pompei, a pusher they met through a go-between named Sergio Brugiatelli. When the Americans took the coke back to their hotel, they realized they had been duped and had paid about $80 for crushed aspirin. They wanted a refund, and then some.