The mother of a man on trial for the murder of a Wilton Manors couple has died, adding to an already complicated case.
Jeanne Avsenew died of cancer earlier this month and was a key witness against her son, Peter, in his first trial in the murders of Steve Adams and Kevin Powell.
Her testimony came under question by defense attorneys because she testified remotely due to her illness and could not physically see her son. Peter’s attorneys felt it went against their defendant’s rights; the Florida Supreme Court agreed and Peter will be getting a retrial.
In a motion filed on April 22, the attorneys asked that her testimony be precluded from the pending trial, citing that the Florida Supreme Court deemed that it “constituted harmful error.”
Jeanne testified that days after the murder, her son came to her house driving the couple’s car and admitted he stole it. He also allegedly told her he got rid of his gun and that “he had done something violent, something that was the worst thing he had ever done, and that he could not get out of it if he was caught,” according to court records.
She also testified that her son said he had not slept in three days, had a bruise from fighting, and that “he got rid of the smell of bleach after taking a shower.”
Jeanne Avsenew. Screenshot via CBS Miami, YouTube.
Peter currently sits on death row for the murder of Adams and Powell, who had been together for 29 years before being shot and bludgeoned to death in December 2010. Marci Craig, the sister of Adams, told SFGN back in 2013 that she was scheduled to pick them up from the airport in Ohio for a visit, but they never showed up. She called the police when no one answered their home phone, leading to the discovery of their bodies.
Peter was a new roommate to the couple weeks before their murder and they reportedly met through Craig’s List. His attorney stated that they did not kill Adams and Powell, but discovered their bodies and then stole their credit cards and car. He also said Peter was traumatized by the murder of his sister in the ‘90s and that he was the victim of sexual abuse.
However, Peter tells a different story. In 2017, he told the court during his death row sentencing that he had “no regrets and I’m proud of every decision I’ve ever made.” He made waves when he hand-wrote a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes, bragging that, “it is my duty as a white man to cull the weak and timid from existence … homosexuals are a disease to mankind and must be put down. I can’t put into words the feeling of ending a life; it's euphoric at the least.”
In March, Wilton Manors Police Chief Gary Blocker asked the public for their thoughts and prayers for the families who would have to relive their loved ones’ murders.
“We believe the killer murdered Stephen and Kevin because they were gay,” Blocker said during a city commission meeting. “We will stand up for Stephen, Kevin, their families, our community and the greater LGBTQ+ community and our allies working toward a second conviction. Anything less would be unacceptable.”