TAMPA, Fla. — The sentencing for Steven Lorenzo, who asked for the death penalty, began Monday — nearly 20 years after the murders he eventually confessed to.
Jason Galehouse and Michael Waccholtz vanished after visiting the same nightclub, one night apart in 2003. Nineteen years later, Steven Lorenzo confessed to sexually torturing and murdering them.
This week begins the sentencing phase of his case, where he faces life in prison or the death penalty.
Lorenzo is acting as his own attorney throughout the penalty phase of this case. He's waived his right to a jury, meaning the judge will be the sole decider of his fate.
Both Lorenzo and the state are asking for the death penalty.
Hillsborough State Attorney Susan Lopez delivered the prosecution's opening statements, quoting chat messages Lorenzo sent before the murders.
"Let's violate the world," Lopez read. "Let's bring our fantasies to realities. I'm extreme, calculated, and loving. Easy to make them vanish with no link to us in the least... "You hold him down, strap him up, not to be found again."
Lorenzo called the state's statement a lie.
"That's a wonderful story. It's a very dramatic story. But it's a lie," Lorenzo said as his opening statement. "But I'm not going to counter it to make this court make me think I'm the worst thing on two feet. I want to continue to sit back because the more they think I'm the bad guy, the more further chance I'm going to get the death penalty."
Former victims of Lorenzo also testified, sharing the horrific details of the sexual torture they survived. Investigators of the murders took to the stands, too.
"They discussed certain levels of desires to torture, desire to kidnap, desires to keep boys in different states," Charles Massucci, the Tampa police detective assigned to this initial investigation, said. "And I would also generalize that there was always an element of planning in these chats..."
Lorenzo cross-examined nearly every person who took to the stand, including his victims.
This penalty phase is expected to last a week, with more testimony from witnesses and those involved in the initial investigation.
Malique Rankin is a general assignment reporter with 10 Tampa Bay. You can email her story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.