State Pursues Death Penalty Against Steven Lorenzo for Torture Killings

TAMPA – The state will continue to seek the death penalty for Steven Lorenzo in connection with the murders of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz.

A month after Lorenzo offered not to contest whether the state ends his pursuit of capital punishment, prosecutors announced in court Friday that they have decided to move forward with a trial in April.

“We are not prepared to accept any offer to negotiate with Mr. Lorenzo,” Assistant District Attorney Justin Diaz said.

The decision came after discussions with the families of the two victims and a meeting of a homicide committee at the office of Hillsborough State’s Attorney Andrew Warren. Family members of both men have already expressed their desire to see Lorenzo sentenced to death.

Galehouse and Wachholtz disappeared on consecutive nights in December 2003 after visiting a gay nightclub. A lengthy investigation led authorities to Scott Schweickert, who eventually confessed to helping lure the men to Lorenzo’s home in Seminole Heights, where they were drugged, sexually tortured and killed.

Related: In 2003, 2 men disappeared in Tampa. 18 years later, a murder case is still dragging on

Lorenzo was found guilty in federal court of drug-related crimes and sentenced to 200 years in prison. But a murder case took years for state authorities to come together.

Schweickert, who was also convicted in federal court, later pleaded guilty to the state charges in exchange for a life sentence.

Lorenzo, 63, who has insisted on representing himself in his state murder case, filed a lengthy handwritten letter last month in which he offered not to contest and laid out numerous arguments against the death penalty.

Related: Steven Lorenzo, charged with 2 Tampa murders, offers no plea to avoid death row

“I withdraw my offer to settle,” he said Friday after hearing the state’s decision. “The information I gave them was only partial. There is always more. I will not negotiate with the state. They didn’t give me what I wanted at first.

A trial date remains set for April.

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