TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Steven Lorenzo is already serving a 200-year prison sentence for federal drug crimes.
The mother of one of the men he’s accused of murdering says he belongs on death row and the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office has rejected his offer to avoid capital punishment.
The horrific murders of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz 18 years ago still haunt Tampa’s gay community.
“Absolutely,” said Galehouse’s friend Tyler Bulter. “It still makes you think when you go out who’s sitting beside you? Who is that other person?”
On back-to-back nights in 2003, both men vanished after visiting the same Tampa nightclub.
Prosecutors say Steven Lorenzo and his partner Scott Schweikert plotted together to drug, sexually torture and murder Galehouse and Wachholtz at Lorenzo’s home in Seminole Heights.
“I miss you know happy Mother’s Day, happy birthday mom, Merry Christmas mom,” Galehouse’s mother Pam Williams said, “just his smile and his laughter and hearing his beautiful singing voice and his charisma.”
Schweikert took a plea deal in 2016 in exchange for life in prison, but Lorenzo has yet to stand trial for the pre-meditated murder of Williams’ only son.
“I’m sick and tired of him getting his way,” she said of the delays in this nearly two-decades-old case.
On Thursday, prosecutors called Williams and Butler to update them on preparations for Lorenzo’s trial that is finally set to begin this spring.
“If one out of the jury of the 12 finds him not guilty, he won’t get the death penalty,” Williams said the prosecutors told her during the call. “I do not like that. I told them flat out I want the death penalty and they said they understood, but it just all depends and I’m sorry I think the justice system stinks.”
Lorenzo is representing himself. State Attorney Andrew Warren told News Channel 8 he’s rejecting his offer to stay off death row.
“Steven Lorenzo committed two shockingly horrific murders for which he deserves the death penalty,” Warren said. “His request that we allowed him to plea no contest and allow him to take no responsibility for his crimes is absurd and not worth the paper it was written on.”
Even though the kidnappings and murders took place in December 2003, Lorenzo was not indicted on the murder charges until June 2016.”
“No family should have to wait 18 years to get justice when their loved ones been murdered,” Warren said, “I can’t talk about all the reasons it took years for this case to be charged, but since I’ve been in the state attorney’s office we’ve been preparing to go trial from day one.”
After all these years, Williams said “you can never get over it.”
But the wait for justice may soon finally be over in two of Tampa’s most heinous murders. The trial of Steven Lorenzo is scheduled to begin with jury selection the first week in April.
“It’s aggravating,” Butler said. “I would never have thought 18 years we’re still asking for justice, 18 years.”