By: Jada Williams
TAMPA, Fla. (WFTS) — The mothers of Steven Lorenzo’s victims spoke in court Tuesday before prosecutors rested their case in a sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty for Lorenzo, who pleaded guilty to drugging, torturing, raping, murdering, and dismembering Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz in 2003. Lorenzo’s entire opening statement Monday focused on why he wants to be sentenced to death as well.
Two witnesses Tuesday echoed those calls: Pam Williams and Ruth Wachholtz, the mothers of Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz.
Ruth Wachholtz spoke first. She broke down at one point and had to compose herself. She started off remembering her son Michael as a joy to be around.
“He was my firstborn, light in my life. Such a good kid. Michael was such a good kid, hands down. He wasn’t perfect. But oh, did he have heart. He was a friend to all,” Wachholtz said.
She recalled her son deciding to move the family to a dairy farm after serving in the military. She also talked about how hard it was when he moved to Florida, leaving them back in Missouri. But that couldn’t prepare the family for Michael’s death.
“Michael’s brother is only 10 months younger, and it was like he had lost a twin. It affects him, to this day, in how he does things. My whole family has a hole that will never be closed. That includes me, too,” she recalled.
When given the chance to address her son’s killer face to face, Ruth Wachholtz didn’t hold back her feelings, fighting through her tears.
“An eye for an eye. It would be nice if we could have old-time justice; hanging. Have them watch the gallows being built. Firing squad, not blindfolded. Guillotine. Again, not blindfolded. What he did to my son before murdering him should be done to him,” she said.
Wachholtz even called out the privileges Lorenzo said he expects to receive if given the death penalty.
“Unfortunately, our modern justice is not like that. It allows people to sleep, eat, play, have shelter and be clothed for free. Even after the events of this week, it will continue for a time. He should no longer breathe. My son doesn’t, so why should he? He is lower than a snake that crawls on the ground, and if found, it should get his head chopped off. At least where I’m from it should. For 20 years, he’s breathed and lived, and Michael hasn’t. At taxpayers’ expense, no less. It’s time to end this,” Wachholtz continued.
Pam Williams, Jason Galehouses’s mother, testified about her son’s life and what his loss meant to her as well.
“He was sweet, kind. He had a good personality. Everybody liked him. When he went in a room, and he just lit up the room because he had that charisma about him. He had a beautiful singing voice that got cut short,” she said.
Galehouse had signed up for classes at a local school, majoring in Interior Design, two nights before his death.
“I want that man to get the death penalty and nothing less,” Williams testified.
In the courtroom, she got the chance to do what she’s waited 20 years to do.
“I want to tell him, look straight at you. You are the scumbag of the earth. And I cannot believe how you can sit there with no remorse. Not one, sorry. No, nothing. I don’t have a grave. I don’t have a tombstone. All I’ve got is ground-up hamburger meat in the ground because of you. You scumbag. That’s exactly what you are,” she said, never breaking eye contact with Lorenzo.
Williams, who is currently battling stage 4 cancer, talked about all Lorenzo took from her.
“I’m not saying that you caused all of it, but you caused plenty of it with emotional strain on me and my family and his friends. And I can tell you right now I am sick to my stomach. Just to look at your disgusting face. Yeah, that’s right. Make a face, you creep,” she continued.
Then turning her focus on Lorenzo’s crimes, she laid out what stuck out to her most.
“When you and that other creep said ‘Oh, we’ll make the bodies disappear and make the family suffer’. Do you understand me? Make the families suffer. And the other thing that sticking in my crop was after you cut him up. You went around and threw his parts in garbage bags and dumpsters and all over the city. As you pulled away, you laughed about it. What the hell is wrong with you? You’re a sick person and I wish to God somebody will cut you up in pieces because that’s what you deserve,” she said.
Lorenzo was given the chance to ask questions to each mother. That’s because he’s representing himself, and both sides get the chance to question every witness. Lorenzo declined to question them but did wish both mothers luck.
Nearly two full days in, the state rested its case after the mothers’ testimonies. Lorenzo declined to put on a case. In cross-examination, Lorenzo attempted to refuse to testify.
However, he submitted a 147-page document to the court to serve as his side of events, giving the prosecutors a chance to question him.
Lorenzo claims both men willingly came back to his home, and both men willingly drank alcohol and did drugs with him. The document also claims there were two other men present during Galehouse’s murder. Lorenzo said he and the other two were experienced BDSM Masters while Scott Schweickert was learning. He said it was a mercy killing after Scott Schweickert became too rough during BDSM. He also claimed Wachholtz accidentally overdosed, writing he was “shocked and stunned that there was yet a second dead body laying right in front of them, literally within two consecutive evenings.”
However, every question about those claims were met with the same answer.
“I’m not going to answer that,” he said.
Lorenzo opted not to be present for closing arguments. He instead asked to have time to prepare a Sentencing Memorandum and have a Spencer Hearing. That hearing is scheduled for February 20. There is no jury. Judge Christopher Sabella will have his decision on Feb. 24.
This story was originally published Feb. 7 by WFTS in Tampa Bay, an E.W. Scripps Company.