Guilty on all counts
A jury was convinced Steven Lorenzo drugged and tortured nine men.
By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO-VAN SICKLER
Published November 10, 2005
TAMPA - It took jurors just three hours to find Steven Lorenzo guilty of drugging nine men to torture them - a verdict that could keep Lorenzo, 46, in prison for 200 years.
U.S. District Judge Richard Lazarra scheduled Lorenzo's sentencing for Jan. 27 at 9 a.m.
"We intend to seek the longest possible sentence we can get," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony E. Porcelli.
The jury found Lorenzo guilty of nine counts of administering GHB, a central nervous system depressant often called the "date rape" drug, to nine men with the intent of committing violence. He also was found guilty of conspiring with Scott Schweickert to distribute GHB.
Among the nine victims: Michael Wachholtz and Jason Galehouse, both 26, who disappeared the weekend of Dec. 19, 2003. Wachholtz's decomposed body was found two weeks later. Galehouse has never been found, though Schweickert told investigators Lorenzo killed him, then got Schweickert to help him cut up the body and dump it in trash bins around the city.
Lorenzo has not been charged with murder, though a state prosecutor was in federal court Wednesday watching the proceedings.
During the federal trial, which began two weeks ago, Lorenzo's attorney Donald Harrison called into question the integrity of the federal case. He said the state declined to pursue the cases of the seven living victims, "and now the U.S. government is rebuilding these cases."
He also questioned the analysis of the DNA evidence that Porcelli presented to incriminate Lorenzo.
But the evidence against Lorenzo pointed to a sexual underground where Lorenzo took pleasure in luring "submissives" and inflicting pain on them.
Jurors heard from seven victims - including a bartender, a Spanish foreign exchange student, and a street hustler - who recalled how they met Lorenzo at a Tampa bar, then went back to his home. They took a drink from Lorenzo that made them pass out. When they woke up, they were bound and in pain from having been tortured and raped.
Jurors saw items seized from Lorenzo's home: duct tape, sex toys, a gas mask that had Galehouse's DNA on it. They saw pictures from Lorenzo's detached garage, where investigators found a 3 by 3-foot section of concrete floor covered in blood. Forensic analysis later concluded it was Galehouse's blood.
Jurors also saw dozens of pictures of naked, bound men taken from inside Lorenzo's home.
And they read several online chats between Lorenzo and Schweickert and other men, in which Lorenzo discusses using GHB to take control of men.
"They have no idea where they are," Lorenzo wrote in an Oct. 15, 2003, chat with Schweickert, their first online encounter. "I am extreme, calculating, and loving."
Less than a month later, Lorenzo and Schweickert agreed in an online exchange: "Let's bring our fantasies to reality."
[Last modified November 10, 2005, 12:16:02]
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