Feb 24, 2023 - News

Steven Lorenzo sentenced to death in Tampa murders

Illustration of a pattern of gavels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

An ugly chapter in Tampa's LGBTQ history has closed, 20 years later.

Driving the news: Hillsborough Circuit Judge Christopher Sabella sentenced Steven Lorenzo to death on Friday.

Why it matters: The murders of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz are a horrific mark on Tampa's LGBTQ history. Loved ones of the victims and local LGBTQ community members have been waiting for Lorenzo's sentencing to put the case to rest.

Between the lines: After two decades of fighting the charges as his own attorney, Lorenzo changed his plea to guilty and asked for the death sentence in December. He said in court that death row will be more comfortable and private than federal prison.

  • There are nearly 300 people on death row in Florida. The state executed its first inmate in four years last week, who had been on death row since 1991.
  • Lorenzo has been serving a 200-year sentence since he was convicted in 2005 of federal charges related to drugging and sexually assaulting nine men, including Galehouse and Wachholtz.

What they're saying: "I don’t know if it’s some kind of reverse psychology… I will not consider what you want in the sentence of this case," Judge Sabella said at Friday's sentencing.

  • The mothers of both victims requested Lorenzo get the death sentence.

Yes, but: Galehouse's friend Tyler Butler told reporters on Monday that he has mixed feelings about Lorenzo getting what he wants and better treatment on death row. "I want him to suffer as much as my friend and the other men," Butler said.

  • Tampa Pride leader Carrie West agreed. "They're giving him a larger room than normal, a larger TV, internet, his own privileges, time outside, his own freedom. No, that's not correct," West told Axios after the sentencing. "He should not have gotten any of those wishes. He destroyed families."

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