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Italy court asked to free US teen held in officer's killing

A police car stations in front of the Meridien hotel in Rome, where two suspects from California, Finnegan Lee Elder, 19, and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth, 18, were arrested hours after Deputy Brigadier Mario Cerciello Rega, 35, was knifed 11 times to his death, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Paolo Santalucia)

MILAN — A lawyer for an American teenager jailed in Rome in connection with the fatal stabbing of an Italian police officer has petitioned a court for his client’s release.

Attorney Renato Borzone on Monday confirmed he filed a request to get 19-year-old Finnegan Lee Elder out of Regina Coeli prison.

Another lawyer made a similar request last week on behalf of Elder’s friend, 18-year-old Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth.

The two Californians are being held while prosecutors probe the July 26 slaying of 35-year-old plainclothes officer Mario Cerciello Rega.

Prosecutors contend Elder stabbed Cerciello Rega during a scuffle while Natale-Hjorth allegedly punched and kicked the officer’s partner.

The Carabinieri officers were investigating an alleged extortion attempt involving the teens and a stolen knapsack.

It’s unclear when a court might hear the petitions to free the Americans.

The Associated Press