A 64-year-old admitted double murderer who insisted upon receiving the death penalty in Florida bizarrely thanked his trial judge for the capital sentence Friday and asserted this his “soul is fine.”
Steven Lorenzo had already confessed in December to murdering Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz, both 26, in 2003. Prosecutors said that Lorenzo drugged, sexually assaulted, and murdered the victims after encountering them at a gay club on separate nights in West Tampa. Because Lorenzo is already serving a 200-year federal sentence for drugging and raping 9 men, including Galehouse and Wachholtz, and because Lorenzo has already pleaded guilty to murder, there was never any doubt that he would spend the rest of his days in prison.
But Lorenzo, who represented himself in the penalty phase, was adamant that he should be put to death for his crimes. Judge Christopher Sabella ultimately decided Friday that the capital punishment requested by the defendant was what justice demanded, too. Then Lorenzo said, “Thank you.”
“I’m seeking the death penalty. It’s in my best interest, basically, because it’s a comfort,” said the aspiring death row inmate. “I’ll be living a lot more comfortable that I would living in the federal system — living on death row, believe it or not,” Lorenzo said. “At my age, I want to be comfortable. I want my privacy. That’s what I want.”
“So I’m asking you to give me the death sentence,” Lorenzo continued, “because that will be more comfortable for me to live out my lifetime.”
“I know that I can be on death row for about 10 to 15 years, which I think is crazy,” he said. “But as far as I see it, it’s just euthanasia. I already have a death sentence. Everyone in this room has a death sentence.”
Lorenzo explained that he has “better things to do with [his] time.” The sooner he sped up his death, the condemned man said, the sooner he would be able to “get [himself] a new body and come back again.”
“We are eternal beings,” said Lorenzo.
The judge responded by clarifying that he would not take into account what Lorenzo wanted when issuing the sentence.
“I sentence you, Mr. Lorenzo, to death. That is the punishment that you deserve for these horrific crimes,” the judge said.
“Thank you,” Lorenzo could be heard saying.
“May God have mercy on your soul,” the judge said in closing.
“My soul is fine, thank you, sir,” Lorenzo replied.
As Law&Crime noted at the outset of the proceedings, Lorenzo’s co-defendant Scott Schweickert pleaded guilty in 2016 to the 2003 murders and received a 40-year federal sentence in 2007 in connection with Wachholtz’s death. He also implicated Lorenzo in the murders.
More recently, as Judge Sabella noted at sentencing, the mothers of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz appeared in court and made heart-wrenching victim impact statements.
“An eye for an eye,” said Ruth Wachholtz. “It would be nice if we could have old-time justice. Hanging. Heaven wants the gallows being built. Firing squad. Not blindfolded. Guillotine. Again, not blindfolded. What he did to my son before murdering him should be done to him.”
“You are the scumbag of the earth,” added Pam Williams, Galehouse’s mom.
“I don’t have a grave,” Williams said. “I don’t have a tombstone. All I’ve got is ground-up hamburger meat in the ground because of you, you scumbag.”
Both mothers called for Lorenzo’s death.
Judge Sabella has had no shortage of gruesome cases before him in recent months. Law&Crime Network trial watchers will remember him as the presiding judge in the cases of Matthew Terry and Trevor Summers.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
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