Steven Lorenzo sentenced to death for murders of Jason Galehouse and Michael Waccholtz in 2003
TAMPA, Fla. - The long wait for justice has finally ended in a case that has haunted Tampa’s gay community for 20 years. On Friday, Tampa Judge Christopher Sabella sentenced Steven Lorenzo to death for the torture and murders of Michael Waccholtz and Jason Galehouse.
Lorenzo said he welcomed the death penalty.
"The sooner I get euthanized, the faster I can fetch myself a new body and come back again. That’s how I look at it," Lorenzo said.
But the judge said Lorenzo’s wish to be executed had nothing to do with his decision. He told Lorenzo that this "is the punishment you deserve for these horrific crimes."
Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez agreed. "The death penalty is the only appropriate sentence in this case. This is not about Steven Lorenzo. This is about Jason Galehouse and Michael Waccholtz, two young men who lost their lives almost twenty years ago," said Lopez.
In December, Lorenzo pleaded guilty to the 2003 murders of Waccholtz and Galehouse. Prosecutors say he and co-defendant Scott Schweickert targeted gay men to use as sex slaves. Schweickert pleaded guilty and agreed to work with prosecutors in their case against Lorenzo.
During a sentencing hearing February 7, Schweickert testified that he and Lorenzo drugged, tortured, and murdered Galehouse and Waccholtz and disposed of their bodies. Wacchotlz’ body was found in his vehicle in an apartment complex parking lot. Galehouse’s body was never recovered. According to Schweickert, Galehouse was dismembered and thrown into various dumpsters.
Albert Perkins, who was drugged and attacked by Lorenzo and lived to tell about it, also testified at the February 7 hearing.
"I was panicked, hysterical", said Perkins. "I remember him sitting. He turned me over. He was sitting on the side of the bed. His face -- he just didn’t look the same -- nothing behind his eyes. They were dark. His face was contorted, which further panicked me," Perkins testified.
Perkins said he slipped in and out of consciousness, and when he finally came-to, Lorenzo was in complete control. "My arms and my legs were bound and some twine, rope around my neck," he testified. "I had duct tape over my eyes and mouth", he added.
Perkins said he was tortured for more than five hours. He escaped when Lorenzo eventually fell asleep.
But nothing compares to the heartbreak of a grieving mother. As she battles terminal cancer, Jason Galehouse’s mother, Pam Williams, mustered all the strength she could to shoot verbal daggers at Lorenzo. "I can tell you right now, I am sick to my stomach just having to look at your disgusting face," she told him.
As the judge sentenced Lorenzo, he made note of the long wait for justice.
"Many witnesses testified. On Feb. 7 two very strong young ladies testified. Ms. Ruth Waccholtz, the mother of Michael Waccholtz and Ms. Pam Williams the mother of Jason Galehouse, they are observing the proceedings today," said Judge Sabella. "The thing that was consistent in their testimony is that they have been waiting 20 years for justice. Today that long wait ends," he said. "In the words of Ms. Pam Williams, ‘From one Italian to another, Ti condanno a morte.’ That translates to ‘I sentence you to death.’