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Man takes deal, pleads no contest in beating

William E. Marr will get 15 years for manslaughter after he testifies against a co-defendant.

One of two men accused of beating to death a homeless man last year because he may have complained about their loud stereo pleaded no contest on Friday to a reduced manslaughter charge.

In a plea agreement with prosecutors, William E. Marr, 20, of St. Petersburg will be sentenced to 15 years in prison for participating in the August 1999 beating death of 51-year-old Don Regnier at a St. Petersburg bus stop.

Marr, who had been charged with second-degree murder and faced life in prison, has agreed to testify against co-defendant Tony Rosa, 20, also of St. Petersburg. Rosa is scheduled to go to trial May 30 on a second-degree murder charge.

Marr will be sentenced by Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip Federico after Rosa's trial. His plea deal is dependent on his truthful testimony in the case.

Neither prosecutors nor the defendants' attorneys could be reached for comment.

Regnier was killed at a bus stop in the 4700 block of 28th Street N. Police officers and neighbors describe the site as a gathering place where men hang out and frequently drink beer.

For years, Regnier had been a fixture around the 28th Street Drive-in and an adjacent strip mall. He had no permanent address.

Early on a weekday morning in August 1999, the two suspects punched and kicked Regnier to death after he or someone with him complained about their loud car stereo as they cruised by, police said.

A couple driving by saw the beating and called 911 on a cellular phone.

The attackers left the bus stop and drove to a nearby friend's house, where they told two women that they had been in a fight, police said.

Marr and the women went back to the bus stop, where witnesses pointed out Marr to police. Rosa was later arrested at home.

At the nearby B&N Food Mart, Regnier enjoyed opening the door for customers and swept the parking lot at night. One time, he even helped a customer retrieve a frightened cat from under a car.