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Farm worker stabbed to death in motel

A migrant worker was stabbed to death while he slept by a drinking companion Sunday night at the Dade City motel where they were staying, authorities said.

The victim, who was identified only as a Hispanic man in his early 40s, had been staying at the Valencia Motel at 12421 U.S. 301 with three other men _ including the suspected killer _ while working in local citrus groves by day, said Sheriff's Office spokesman Jon Powers.

As the four men drank in and around the motel Sunday night, the suspect bragged of his fighting prowess, which prompted the victim to punch him, Powers said.

The suspect later stabbed the man once in the chest while he slept, authorities said. The Sheriff's Office received the call at 11:17 p.m. as a case of aggravated battery. The victim was taken to Dade City Hospital and pronounced dead at 11:42 p.m.

Deputies recovered a 6-inch kitchen knife with a serrated edge.

A woman answering the phone at the motel Monday declined to answer any questions.

Authorities said they might have the name of the victim, but were trying to confirm it.

The same goes for the suspect, who is described as a Hispanic man 18 to 21 years old, 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 8, 145 to 150 pounds with brown eyes and short black hair. He was seen running from the scene in a T-shirt and jeans.

The victim, suspect and two other men in the motel room are thought to be illegal immigrants from Mexico, Powers said.

"Some of the witnesses are reluctant to tell us a whole lot," he said.

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