A man is to be executed for the “cold, calculated and premeditated” murder of a married gay couple in Florida.
Peter Avsenew, a male escort, bludgeoned Stephen Adams and Kevin Powell before shooting them dead in 2010 after being welcomed into their home in the city of Wilton Manors.
The 33-year-old was found guilty last year on two counts of murder, with a jury in January voting unanimously for him to recieve the death penalty.
Circuit judge Ilona Holmes this week agreed with their recommendation.
“Nothing about defendant’s age, physical condition, background or mental status, suggests that the ultimate sentence of death for such conduct is disproportionate,” she wrote in her 28 August sentencing order.
She added that the death penalty was justified due to a number of “aggravating circumstances”, including the fact the murders were “especially heinous, atrocious or cruel” and were “committed in a cold, calculated and premeditated manner”.
Adams and Powell allegedly took in Avsenew weeks before their death after the escort posted an ad on Craigslist.
After shooting the couple, Avsenew stole their money, credit cards and car, went shopping for outdoor supplies and fled to the north of Florida, where his mother eventually turned him in.
Mr Adams and Mr Powell had been together for almost 30 years and their bodies were found wrapped in blankets the day after Christmas Day.
Avsenew showed no remorse or reaction when the death sentence was handed down to him, but he later gave the middle finger to the families of Adams and Powell as they left the courthouse.
In response to the gesture, Missy Badget, Adams’ sister, said: “After what happened in that courtroom just now, I’m happy that he’s being put to the death penalty.”
Marci Craig, Adams’ other sister, added: “In my heart of hearts, I knew that he was making that gesture to us.”
Avsenew, who represented himself, said in his closing statements he had “no regrets in his life”.
He added: “My job here is simple. I don’t have to prove anything to you as clearly the state’s proven that. All I have to do is be here and behave. It’s up to you to decide life or death based on the information provided to you throughout this entire trial. I have no regrets in my life and I am proud of the decisions I’ve made.
“No one really knows what happened that day. Everyone can speculate what ifs and maybes until they’re blue in the face, which they’ll never really know.”