Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco man pleads guilty in fatal beating of trucker

DADE CITY — Almost seven years ago, a 59-year-old truck driver was found in the parking lot of an Interstate 75 truck stop, unconscious and bleeding from a severe beating.

Roger Lee Ware, who lived in Milan, Ohio, died a day later of head injuries.

A year later, authorities arrested a man depicted in court documents as Ware's romantic rival: Michael Louis Berencsi, a fellow truck driver.

Facing a charge of second-degree murder, Berencsi, 56, pleaded guilty Thursday to a lesser charge of manslaughter. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

According to authorities, Ware had planned to meet a woman for dinner on Nov. 4, 2002, at the Dixie Boy truck stop on State Road 52 near Dade City. He had hoped she would be his trucking partner, but he also had romantic interests in mind.

Berencsi was also involved with the woman. When Ware went to meet her for dinner, Berencsi was waiting instead.

He beat Ware, records say, possibly with a crowbar or a baseball bat, and left him lying in his own blood.

Berencsi, who lived in Hudson, was a fugitive when he was arrested in November 2003 in Massachusetts. Authorities had thought he might be in southeast Massachusetts because a girlfriend of his had relatives in the area. He was arrested at gunpoint.

According to family members quoted in court documents, Ware and Berencsi had a tangled history. When Ware divorced his wife in Ohio, Berencsi showed up at their divorce hearing with her. Berencsi's sons described him as a volatile and paranoid man who drank heavily.

None of Ware's relatives were in court Thursday to speak. Assistant State Attorney Manny Garcia said he had consulted with them about the plea agreement.

"They wanted to get it behind them and move on with their lives," Garcia said.

Circuit Judge Pat Siracusa asked Berencsi whether he wanted to say anything before the sentencing was final.

Berencsi declined.

Molly Moorhead can be reached at moorhead@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6245.

Pasco man pleads guilty in fatal beating of trucker 10/29/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Watch: Gorilla dances like a 'maniac' in kiddie pool

    Blogs

    Zola, a gorilla who resides at the Dallas Zoo, has gone viral after showing off his dance moves.
  2. Bill Clinton coming to Miami Beach on Saturday for mayors' convention

    Blogs

    From our friends at the Miami Herald:

    Former President Bill Clinton gives the opening address to kick off a meeting of International Aid Groups at the InterAction Forum 2017 at the Washington Convention Center on June 20.
  3. Obama's secret struggle to punish Russia for Putin's election assault

    National

    WASHINGTON — Early last August, an envelope with extraordinary handling restrictions arrived at the White House. Sent by courier from the CIA, it carried "eyes only" instructions that its contents be shown to just four people: President Barack Obama and three senior aides.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Barack Obama shake hands at the COP21 UN Conference on Climate Change in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. [Mikhail Klimentyev | Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP]
  4. GOP's challenge: Finding votes for Senate health care bill (w/video)

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally unwrapped his plan for dismantling President Barack Obama's health care law. Now comes his next challenge — persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP.

    Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Thursday, June 22, 2017. He is one of four GOP senators to say they are opposed it but are open to negotiations, which could put the measure in immediate jeopardy. [Associated Press]
  5. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy

    Business

    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]