Peter Avsenew, convicted of killing a Wilton Manors couple days before Christmas 2010 and stealing their car to escape to north Florida, who told a jury in January that he had no regrets and a judge in March that he had killed before and would again, has been sentenced to die.
He is the first defendant in Broward to receive a death sentence since a new law was passed in 2017 requiring juries to be unanimous in finding an execution is warranted.
Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes considered pleas for mercy from a court-appointed attorney who found Avsenew suffered trauma in his childhood — the murder of his sister and his alleged sexual abuse at the hands of his stepfather.
Holmes could have overturned the jury’s January death recommendation, but Avsenew’s crime could be punished only by death, she decided.
It seemed to be the result Avsenew wanted — after his conviction last fall for the murders of Stephen Adams and Kevin Powell, a Wilton Manors couple who took him in after he posted a sexually suggestive classified ad on Craigslist.
Adams and Powell had been together for nearly 30 years.
But Avsenew’s comments about them, in his letter to Holmes, were without mercy.
“It is my duty as a white man to cull the weak and timid from existence,” Avsenew, 33, wrote. “Homosexuals are a disease to mankind and must be put down.”