Lawyers entered a plea of insanity yesterday in the case of Austin Harrouff, the former Florida State University student accused of killing a middle-aged couple outside of their home. Nellie King, one of Harrouff's lawyers, submitted a notice of intent for an insanity defense to the judge on Tuesday Dec. 5. King wrote that Harrouff was "suffering from a full-blown psychotic episode" when he attacked John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon.
Harrouff was having dinner at a restaurant on Aug. 15, 2016, when something triggered his fugue state. Witnesses say he stormed out, and walked nearly three miles to Stevens and Mischon's home. He allegedly entered their garage, drank an unidentified chemical — which damaged the lining of this throat — and found a machete.
When he was discovered, Harrouff allegedly stabbed both Stevens and Mishcon, as well as a neighbor who tried to stop the attack. The neighbor survived. Harrouff then took a bite out of Stevens' abdomen, and was chewing on his face when police arrived and tried to pull him off. Police say they discovered Stevens in his underwear, and repeated kicks seemed not to hurt him.
After his arrest, Harrouff's parents said that he had been acting strange for weeks beforehand. Harrouff's father appeared on Dr. Phil, where he discussed with the show's eponymous host whether his son might have schizophrenia. Austin Harrouff himself later appeared on the program as well, offering an apology and explaining that he had no control over his actions on that day.
“I felt terrible and… I really, really don’t have words to explain how I feel,” he said. “It’s like a nightmare… It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I never imagined this would ever happen and I am deeply sorry to the family. I’m sorry for their loss and I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me. I’m so sorry and I never wanted this to happen. I’m so sorry. I don’t know how to put it into words. I never wanted this to happen.”
Harrouff is charged with two counts of murder and one count of attempted first-degree murder.