Austin Harrouff’s attorneys file insanity plea for murder charges
His attorney said he was having a ‘full-blown psychotic episode’
Austin Harrouff’s attorney officially filed insanity defense paperwork on December 5.
According to West Palm Beach local news, Nellie King said that Harouff was “suffering from a full-blown psychotic episode.”
The former FSU student was taken into custody on August 15, 2016, after fatally attacking couple Michelle Mishcon, 53, and husband John Stevens, 59, both from Tequesta, FL.
At the scene, police had to aggressively pull Harrouff off Stevens' body, whose face and abdomen he was trying to eat. Concerned neighbor, Jeff Fisher, 47, was also attacked that night, surviving the multiple stab wounds he received at the scene.
In March, Harrouff appeared on television show Dr. Phil, on which he said, “I hope that something like this never happens again. I never wanted, consciously, to do something like this or I never planned it. I didn’t want to do it.
“It happened but I wasn’t aware of it at the time. At the end, I remember saving a dog and hijacking a car. It’s a blur.”
Harrouff’s parents said that he seemed “off” during the weeks before the attack.
It took multiple police officers, a stun gun, and a K9 unit to stop the 20-year-old. Though authorities initially suspected the murder to be a result of street drug “flakka,” a psychoactive stimulant associated with other “zombie-like” attacks, toxicology results later revealed there were no traces of any hallucinogen within Harrouff’s system on the night of the attack.
Historically, jurors tend to vote against insanity defenses. “The natural inclination for jurors is to want to hold those people responsible for their acts anyway,” said Criminal Defense attorney, Gregg Lerman.
John Stevens’s son, John Stevens Jr., hopes this latest update within the trial will not be taken seriously as he doesn’t believe Harrouff to be mentally ill: “All you have to do is listen to the words that Austin himself said that night to Jeff Fisher, that he didn’t want any of this, when he asked the cops to kill him, that he deserved to die.” Stevens Jr. continued, “Those aren’t the words of an insane or psychotic individual. Those are the words of a kid who was afraid to face what was in store for him.”
According to the defense, there are plans to bring in a doctor and mental health expert from Ohio to testify.
More to follow.