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State continues pursuit of death penalty for Steven Lorenzo in torture murders

Prosecutors rejected a no-contest plea offer from Lorenzo, who faces trial in April.
Steven Lorenzo appears at a 2017 court hearing. Prosecutors will continue to seek a death sentence for Lorenzo in connection with two Tampa murders.
Steven Lorenzo appears at a 2017 court hearing. Prosecutors will continue to seek a death sentence for Lorenzo in connection with two Tampa murders.
Published Jan. 21|Updated Jan. 21

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 to plead no contest if the state discontinued its pursuit of capital punishment, prosecutors announced in court Friday that they had decided to move forward toward an April trial.

“We are not willing to accept any proposal for negotiation with Mr. Lorenzo,” Assistant State Attorney Justin Diaz said.

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

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

Related: In 2003, 2 men vanished in Tampa. 18 years later, a murder case still lingers

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

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

Lorenzo, 63, who has insisted on representing himself in his state murder case, last month filed a lengthy handwritten letter in which he offered to plead no contest and outlined numerous arguments against the death penalty.

Related: Steven Lorenzo, accused of 2 Tampa murders, offers no contest plea to avoid death row

“I am withdrawing my offer to settle,” he said Friday, upon hearing the state’s decision. “The information that I gave them was only partial. There is always more. I am not going to negotiate with the state. They didn’t give me what I wanted in the beginning.”

A trial date remains set for April.

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