Italian police officer Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, was stabbed to death in Rome on July 26
An Italian police officer who died in a confrontation with two American teens was stabbed so brutally that the hilt of the seven-inch knife left bruises, an autopsy has revealed.
The grisly autopsy results show that 35-year-old Carabinieri deputy brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega was stabbed 11 times and bled to death in the July 26 attack on the streets of Rome, ABC News reported.
Several of Cerciello Rega’s major organs were punctured in the attack, including both lungs, the autopsy shows, saying he was stabbed with ‘much violence’.
Charged in the attack are U.S. students Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18.
Cerciello Rega had just returned to work from his honeymoon after getting married six weeks prior – and his funeral was held in the same church in his hometown of Somma Vesuviana where the wedding took place.
Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, (left) and Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, (right) are seen during their arrest in photos released by Italian police
Scene on the via Pietro Cossa, in the Prati area of Rome, Italy, where Mario Cerciello Rega, a member of Italy’s Carabinieri was stabbed to death while on duty
‘The widow is devastated and in deep sorrow,’ Esilio’s attorney, Massimo Ferrandino, told ABC News in a statement on Thursday.
Police believe that the attack occurred during a botched drug deal of some kind.
Elder’s lawyer, Renato Borzone, said that the defense still needs more time to get a full picture of what happened. He added that he is still working to clarify ‘key passages’ in the investigation.
In a family statement, Elder’s mother Leah said ‘she has been grateful to have been able to see her son’ in Rome in the past two days and sent her thoughts to Cerciello Rega’s family.
‘Finn is trying to stay hopeful but has suffered from severe depression since the incident,’ the family said.
‘While in prison he has seen the way the media has portrayed him and the circumstances of the case and it has been difficult to hear the facts unfairly misrepresented.’
Cerciello Rega was married just six weeks prior to his murder. His funeral was held in the same church as his wedding in his hometown of Somma Vesuviana
Carabinieri officers carry the Italian flag draped coffin containing the body of officer Mario Cerciello Rega during his funeral in his hometown of Somma Vesuviana in Naples
According to court documents, Finnegan said he thought a strange man was strangling him and he didn’t know Cerciello Rega was a plainclothes police officer.
Cerciello Rega and a partner were assigned to respond to a small-scale extortion attempt involving a failed drug deal and a stolen backpack, Italian authorities have said.
The backpack belonged to an Italian man suspected of being an intermediary in the drug deal, who called the Carabinieri asking them to intervene.
Both teens have told investigators that they didn’t know that the two officers were Carabinieri as they were in plainclothes 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.
Cerciello Rega was stabbed 11 times with an 18-centimeter-long military-style attack knife that investigators reported finding in the drop ceiling of the Americans’ hotel room, police said.
Cops say this surveillance video image shows the two American teens fleeing the scene
Flowers and tributes left for Deputy Brigadier Mario Cerciello at the scene of the murder
Prosecutors contend that Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega to death while Natale-Hjorth scuffled with the officer’s partner.
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, 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.
A hearing on Natale-Hjorth’s petition for release will be held on September 16.