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Florida doctor pleads not guilty to road rage murder in Vermont

Published: Dec. 27, 2021 at 3:38 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 27, 2021 at 5:07 PM EST
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - A two-year-old murder mystery has been solved with the aid of technology. Police now say the fatal shooting on a rural Vermont highway appears to be the result of road rage.

Jozsef Piri, 49, of Naples, Florida, pleaded not guilty in court on Monday to a charge of second-degree murder. Police say Piri shot and killed Roberto Fonseca-Rivera, 44, of Boston, on Route 103 in Rockingham, Vermont, back in November 2019.

Piri appeared virtually in court on Monday.

He was arrested in Florida on Dec. 16 in connection with the shooting death of the Boston delivery driver.

According to the affidavit, Piri was traveling from Vermont to Connecticut at the time of the shooting.

Investigators say Piri had been having issues at his second home in Vermont and the day was not going smoothly. They say that led to the fatal confrontation with Fonseca-Rivera.

Investigators say using surveillance footage, GPS data, photographs and other information, they found Piri to be driving immediately in front of Fonseca-Rivera just before the shooting occurred.

Police say a search of Piri’s Vermont home turned up a gun similar to the one used in the shooting but missing key parts needed to do ballistics tests.

All of that evidence pieced together led police to arrest Piri.

Piri pleaded not guilty to the charge.

“The idea that he would just decide to gun down somebody that he doesn’t even know-- that sounds preposterous, frankly,” said John Amabile, Piri’s lawyer.

In court, both the state and the defense came to an agreement on conditions for making Piri eligible to be released on bail pending trial. Piri must turn over all passports to the Vermont State Police. He must also turn over all firearms and muzzleloaders to police in Vermont and Florida. The attorneys agreed Piri could then be released on $250,000 bail.

Murder defendants can be held without bail. Piri’s lawyers say this agreement was the right thing to do for their client.

“Taking his history, his lack of a criminal record, I think ultimately he would have been released. I think the state agreeing to it-- I give them credit for not trying to hold him longer and realizing that he’s a person that should be released by agreement,” said Adam Hescock, Piri’s lawyer.

Piri is currently being held without bail pending his cooperation with the court-ordered conditions. His attorneys say they hope to have him released by the end of the week.

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Police make arrest in 2019 Rockingham murder

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VSP: Man found dead on side of the road

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