The man who admitted to killing a Wilton Manors couple in 2010 and told a judge he “was not sorry” has been granted a new trial, the Sun Sentinel reports.
The ruling came down from the Florida Supreme Court Thursday, after taking issue with the fact that a witness testified virtually. Peter Avsenew is on death row for the murders of Steve Adams and Kevin Powell.
Avsenew's mother was undergoing cancer treatments at the time of the trial in 2017 and was unable to testify in person. She shared that her son drove to her home in Polk County in the victims’ vehicle and acted strangely.
The court said that “the failure to ensure that Avsenew was kept in the presence of [his mother] during her testimony, in this case, her ‘virtual’ presence, constituted a clear violation” of the defendant’s rights.
Adams and Powell had been together for 29 years before they were shot and bludgeoned to death days before Christmas in 2010. Avsenew, now 37 and an inmate at Union Correctional Institution in Raiford, allegedly met the couple through Craig’s List and moved in with them weeks prior to the killing.
Marci Craig, the sister of Adams, told SFGN back in 2013 that she was waiting for the couple’s arrival at the airport in Ohio during a visit when they never showed up. When no one answered the phone at their Wilton Manors home, she called the police, who found the men’s bodies.
“They were very good at communicating,” Shannon Kicklighter, Powell’s brother, told SFGN in 2013. “They were just really kindhearted, always getting involved with helping people.”
Avsenew’s defense attorney claimed that he did not kill the couple, but found them dead and stole their credit cards and car, Local 10 reports. However, Avsenew drew attention when hand-wrote a letter to Broward Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes, gloating 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 the letter Avsenew also implied it’s not the first time he may have killed someone writing, “these weren’t the first and won’t be the last,” and “if you only knew how many there really are you would faint.”
During his death row sentencing in 2017, he told the court he had “no regrets and I’m proud of every decision I’ve ever made.” According to the Sun Sentinel, he scratched his head with his middle finger and explained that he was not giving the finger to the jury, but to the families of the victims.
His lawyer also claimed that Avsenew had experienced trauma from the death of his sister at a young age and sexual abuse.
The defendant replied, “I’d rather just kill people.” And in the letter he seemed to address his attorney’s claims writing, “nothing traumatic made me the way I am. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember.”