SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – The father of a Bay Area teenager accused of murdering an Italian police officer claims the public doesn’t know the full account of what happened and looks forward to his son returning home.

“We saw our son, Finnegan, he was OK, but tired, remorseful and scared,” said US defense attorney Craig Peters as he read Ethan Elder’s prepared statement, on Saturday.

Elder stood behind Peters, outside his San Francisco home, as he clutched two women. He never looked up at the swarm of journalists as Peters read his statement.

The news conference was held soon after Elder landed in the Bay Area from a visit to his 19-year-old son in a Rome jail.

“He has our full support and we stand by his side,” Peters read.

Finnegan Elder, along with his former Tamalpais High School classmate Gabriel Natale-Hjorth, are accused of murdering Mario Cerciello-Rega. Elder allegedly stabbed Rega nearly a dozen times with a seven-inch, military grade knife he’d bought in the US.

But Elder’s father said he now has a plan in place to get to the truth, and decided to return home to take care of the rest of his family.

“It’s understandable, but unfortunate that people have jumped to conclusions in this matter,” he said.

Finnegan Elder and Natale-Hjorth are accused of drinking the night of the killing, and police said at least one had been on drugs.

Cerciello-Rega and the teen suspects crossed paths when the officer was called to investigate a botched drug deal. Cerciello-Rega and his partner were undercover when they approached the suspects and were allegedly attacked immediately.

Finnegan Elder claimed it was self-defense. Cerciello-Rega, however, was unarmed.

Elder’s father said in his statement that the officer’s family was in their thoughts.

The teens face life in prison if convicted.

Peters or Elder’s family did not answer any questions after reading the statement.

“The public has an incomplete account of the true versions of the events,” Peters read. “It is said, however, the truth will set you free; we look forward to the truth coming out and to our son coming home.”

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