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Judge orders mental health evaluation for Steven Lorenzo in torture murder case

TAMPA — Steven Lorenzo gave a Hillsborough County courtroom a peek Monday at what might be ahead as the state tries to prosecute him for two widely publicized Tampa murders.

For the second time, Lorenzo voiced what appeared to be a sovereign citizen defense, refusing to accept a court-appointed lawyer and dismissing the authority of the judge.

"These Bar association attorneys like you all belong to the same club," Lorenzo told Circuit Judge Mark Kiser. "I am the attorney of fact. The public record shows that. So you have no authority to issue anybody to represent me."

Adherents of the sovereign citizen movement typically shun the legitimacy of government and established laws.

But Lorenzo's statements, and similar words he used at a hearing in September, prompted Kiser to express concerns about his competency to stand trial.

The judge appointed Dr. Michael Gamache, a psychologist, to evaluate Lorenzo's mental health.

"I refuse," Lorenzo interjected. "I'm not going to talk to him. ... Do I have a contract with that doctor?"

Kiser said it was not Lorenzo's decision to make and encouraged him to participate in the doctor's evaluation. The doctor, the judge said, would ensure his rights are protected.

"You want to ensure my rights are not protected," Lorenzo said.

The judge told Lorenzo he would return to court Dec. 4.

Lorenzo chuckled.

"Whatever you say," he said. "It's not going to work. But whatever you say."

PREVIOUS STORY: Steven Lorenzo appears in Tampa court, 13 years after torture murders

Kiser appointed attorney Nick Sinardi to serve as standby counsel for Lorenzo. An attorney for the Office of the Regional Conflict Counsel, which was previously appointed, withdrew Monday because the office had previously represented Scott Schweickert.

Schweickert admitted in a plea agreement last year that he helped Lorenzo kill Jason Galehouse and Michael Wachholtz in December 2003 at Lorenzo's home in Seminole Heights.

According to the plea agreement, Schweickert said he and Lorenzo concocted a plan to meet single gay men and make them "permanent slaves."

They met Galehouse and Wachholtz on separate nights, lured each back to Lorenzo's home, and engaged in rough sex with them before killing them, according to the agreement.

Schweickert said they dismembered Galehouse' body with an electric saw, then discarded the body parts in trash bins throughout Tampa. Wachholtz' body was found in his abandoned Jeep at an apartment complex.

Schweickert, who agreed to testify against Lorenzo, received a life sentence.

PREVIOUS STORY: Man sentenced to life for killing Tampa men he used as sex slaves

Lorenzo, 58, is already serving a 200-year federal prison sentence for giving GHB, a date-rape drug, to Galehouse, Wachholtz and seven other men. But it took the state more than a decade to assemble enough evidence to bring murder charges against him.

He faces the death penalty.

Contact Dan Sullivan at dsullivan@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386. Follow @TimesDan.

Judge orders mental health evaluation for Steven Lorenzo in torture murder case 10/30/17 [Last modified: Thursday, November 2, 2017 11:20am]
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