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Retrial ordered in Italian murder case involving former Santa Barbara County college student

New trial ordered in case of Americans convicted of killing Italian police officer.

Italian high court looked at case.

A retrial has been ordered in an Italian murder case involving a former Santa Barbara County college student.

An undercover officer was stabbed to death in 2019 during what was supposed to be a drug sting in Rome. Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth were convicted of killing the officer. They were originally sentenced to life in prison, but their sentences were later reduced to just over two decades each.

Elder is a former Santa Barbara City College student.

The court hasn’t explained yet why it’s ordering a new trial. The two men claimed they didn’t know the man was an undercover officer, and that they acted in self-defense.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.