HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA — Today, Judge Christopher Sabella agreed with Hillsborough County State Attorney Suzan Lopez that defendant Steven Lorenzo should be put to death for his crimes.
Steven Lorenzo, along with his co-defendant Scott Schweikert, who is already serving a life sentence, killed Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz in December 2003. Lorenzo was previously convicted of drug-related charges in the federal criminal justice system and sentenced to 200 years in prison.
Lopez argued in her opening statement, during the penalty phase of the case, that the only appropriate outcome for these murders was a death sentence for Lorenzo.
“Defendant Lorenzo’s actions were unquestionably heinous, cruel, and atrocious,” Lopez told the court. “He was always going to die in prison given his prior convictions, but these murders require the penalty of our prison system putting him to death.”
Galehouse and Wachholz disappeared on back-to-back nights in December 2003 after visiting the same gay nightclub in Tampa. Scott Schweickert, another defendant serving a life sentence for his role in the murders, testified on the witness stand.
Schweickert described how he and Lorenzo used online chats to lure the men into his home, where Lorenzo plotted to kidnap, sexually torture and enslave unsuspecting gay men. When they were done with their victims, Schweickert said they planned to kill the men or sell them.
Schweickert gave detailed testimony on how both men were lured, tortured and eventually killed. After sexually torturing Galehouse, Schweickert said they moved them into Lorenzo’s garage, where they dismembered them with an electric saw. Then, they placed the body parts into garbage bags and disposed of them in multiple dumpsters across Tampa Bay. His remains were never found.
They placed Wachholtz’s body into the back of Schweickert’s Jeep Cherokee and drove to an apartment complex west of Tampa, where they abandoned his body. Investigators later found DNA from both victims during searches of Lorenzo’s garage and home. They also found photographs of the victims bound and bloodied.
MURDERER ASKS FOR DEATH PENALTY
“Jason Galehouse’s and Michael Wachholtz’s lives were taken at the hands of this monster. Their murders were crimes of entertainment and self-satisfaction for Defendant Lorenzo,” Lopez added.
During the trial phase, Lorenzo filed documents seeking to avoid the death penalty. Ultimately, he pled guilty to the two murders and then asked for the death penalty. Lorenzo waived his constitutional right to have a jury recommend whether he should live or die as a result of his guilt.
“The court heard directly from the courageous, brave mothers of Jason and Michael, who have been left to endure this tragedy. I cannot thank them enough for working with our team and summoning the tenacity to face this murderer in court,” said Lopez.
Governor Ron DeSantis will now set a date for when Lorenzo will have his last meal and face execution.