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. Rick and Tom podcast: Will Bucs go 2-0? Are Gators on upset alert?

    Blogs

    It's football friday as Rick Stroud and Tom Jones break down the Bucs' game in Minnesota, including the improved offensive line.

    Ali Marpet moved from guard to center on an improved Bucs offensive line.
  2. In this Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017, photo distributed on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers a statement in response to U.S. President Donald Trump's speech to the United Nations, in Pyongyang, North Korea. Kim, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called Trump "deranged" and said he will "pay dearly" for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the Korean Central News Agency via Korea News Service. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. [Associated Press]
  3. Locals help clear debris from a road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico, Thursday, September 21, 2017. As of Thursday evening, Maria was moving off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with winds of 120 mph (195 kph). The storm was expected to approach the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas late Thursday and early Friday. [Associated Press]
  4. Forecast: First day of fall brings more showers, humidity to Tampa Bay

    Weather

    More moisture will filter into the Tampa Bay area on Friday, the official start of fall, allowing for higher rain chances through the day and beginning half of the weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]
  5. Polk childcare workers who berated autistic child turn themselves in (w/video)

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Two childcare workers are facing child abuse charges after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old autistic child.

    Police are searching for two childcare workers - Kaderrica Smith, 26, and Alexis Henderson, 20 - after a Snapchat video surfaced of them berating, taunting and throwing a backpack at an 8-year-old Autistic child in Winter Haven. [Winter Haven Police Department]