Alleged Florida murderer of two gay men asks for death sentence after denying crime for decades

Steven Lorenzo.

Steven Lorenzo is one of two men accused of murdering Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz in December 2003, and until now had pleaded not guilty, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

The other man is Scott Schweickert who, eventually in 2016, agreed to plead guilty to his role in the deaths – getting a life sentence but avoiding the death penalty for testifying against Lorenzo in prosecutors’ efforts to convict him.

He went on to confess that Galehouse and Wachholtz were taken to Lorenzo’s home in Seminole Heights, Tampa, where they were drugged, sexually tortured and then killed.

Both men were imprisoned – Lorenzo in 2005 for 200 years – on charges related to using the drug GHB to facilitate sexual assaults against a number of men, including both of the deceased.

However, Lorenzo was only charged with murder after Schweickert’s 2016 guilty plea.

He had pleaded not guilty until last week when he wrote a 16-page court paper saying he wanted to plead guilty, be sentenced to death and waive his right to an appeal. This was then reiterated in court on Friday (2 December).

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The Tampa Bay Times reported the only explanation from Lorenzo, who has been representing himself in court, was his apparent pessimism about his chances of success in a trial.

Florida man says sentence ‘doesn’t bother him’

Hillsborough Circuit judge Christopher Sabella asked if Lorenzo understood his decision: ”life or execution at the hands of Department of Corrections”.

Lorenzo said either one “doesn’t bother him” because he’s already effectively serving a life sentence and he doesn’t mind death due to his age (63).

However, judge Sabella also explained Lorenzo could not just be sentenced to death but there was instead a legal process that had to be followed.

A new hearing was set for Tuesday (6 December).

A friend of Galehouse, Tyler Butler, and Tampa Pride president Carrie West, both told the Tampa Bay Times they were sceptical of Lorenzo’s intentions.

Butler questions “why all of a sudden now”, given it had been 19 years.

West thought “there’s a surprise happening”.

“I would think right now that there’s going to be another great big hiccup Tuesday”.

Elsewhere in the United States, the New York Police Department is investigating the deaths of two men who died shortly after nights out at gay bars this year – both also having thousands of dollars stolen.

A number of other men came forward to The New York Times about being drugged at gay bars and similarly being robbed.

It was highlighted how date rape drugs – including GHB, which Lorenzo was convicted of using – do not remain in the body system very long and are not included in most drug and toxicology tests.