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Tampa Nightclub Killer Who Date Raped, Tortured Two Gay Men In 2003 Asks For Death Sentence
Steven Lorenzo pleaded guilty to the brutal 2003 date-rape killings of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz. He's asked to be sentenced to death because the conditions are more to his liking.
A Florida man who admitted to killing and torturing two men he’d met at a nightclub two decades ago requested a death sentence at a court hearing this week, according to reports.
Steven Lorenzo requested at the beginning of his sentencing hearing on Monday that he receive the death penalty because he said he feels death row is "more comfortable," Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS reported. He had pleaded guilty in December to the brutal 2003 date-rape killings of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz, local station Bay News 9 reported.
Galehouse and Wachholtz were sexually assaulted and asphyxiated after vanishing from the same Tampa nightclub on subsequent nights in December 2003 WFLA-TV reported. Both men were 26 at the time.
“I’m 64 years old,” Lorenzo said in court on Monday, Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS reported. “I could be on death row for 10, 15 years. The comforts that they get in the death row are a lot more comfortable than it is in the federal system. You get your own private cell. You get your own TV. You get your own computer. You get all this stuff. But your privacy, your daily quality of life privacy, at my age, is invaluable.”
Prosecutors have also called for capital punishment.
"The State of Florida stands before your honor today to humbly ask you to impose the ultimate, the harshest, the most severe punishment allowed by the laws of this state," State Attorney Susan Lopez also said at Monday’s hearing.
Lorenzo is currently serving a 200-year federal prison sentence after being found guilty in 2006 of raping and torturing nine men, including Galehouse and Wachholtz, who were all drugged with the date-rape drug GHB, according to a Tampa Bay Times report from the time. At his sentencing, a judge then-described Lorenzo’s Seminole home as a “chamber of horrors.”
Prosecutors say Galehouse and Wacholtz were drugged, bound, sexually assaulted and asphyxiated to death. Waccholtz’s decomposing body was found in a Jeep two weeks after he was murdered. Galehouse’s body was never recovered, however, his blood was later found on Lorenzo’s garage floor and the killer's co-conspirator admitted they killed him.
Scott Schweickert, Lorenzo’s co-conspirator, pleaded guilty to his involvement in the two killings in 2016. He ultimately disclosed in lurid detail to investigators how the pair dismembered Galehouse’s corpse.
During the death penalty hearing, both Galehouse and Wachholtz's mothers stared down Lorenzo, berating him in scathing and, at times, emotional, statements read in the courtroom. They, too, demanded Lorenzo be sentenced to death.
“An eye for an eye,” Ruth Wachholtz, mother of Michael Wachholtz, said in court. “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.”
Pam Williams, Galehouse’s mother, also unleashed on Lorenzo.
“You are the scumbag of the earth,” Pam Williams, mother of Jason Galehouse, told Lorenzo.
“You’re the dirt underneath my fingernails,” Williams also said WTSP-TV reported. “And you do not deserve to be living today and even tomorrow. You should be dead already.”
The grieving mother touched on the pain of not knowing what happened to her son’s remains after Lorenzo mutilated and disposed of his body.
“I don’t have a grave,” Williams added. “I don’t have a tombstone. All I’ve got is ground-up hamburger meat in the ground because of you, you scumbag.”
The lengthy case proceedings have also traumatized former friends of Galehouse and Wachholtz, some of whom have attended the trial.
“Every time we go back into the courtroom, every time something comes up with the case, you just relive everything,” Tyler Butler told WFLA-TV. “You think it would get easier, but it’s not.”
Butler, who's also calling for capital punishment in the case, is cautiously optimistic justice will prevail.
“I’d love to say, yes, it’s going to happen, it’s finally happening,” Butler said. “It’s really hard to be positive after 19 years of this disturbing case. I mean, 19 years, it’s hard to have faith."