A man who randomly murdered a Florida couple in their garage and then chewed on one of the victim’s faces has been found not guilty by reason of insanity.
Austin Harrouff, 25, pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree murder for the 2016 slayings of John Stevens, 59, and his wife, Michelle Mishcon Stevens, 53. He was also convicted of several other charges, some stemming from the fact he tried to seriously injure a neighbor who tried to help the couple.
Harrouff attended Florida State University prior to the attack, which took place near Fort Lauderdale. Had the trial gone on, he would be facing life in prison. Instead, he will be committed to a nearby mental institute following Judge Sherwood Bauer’s decision.
Per CBS: “Two mental health experts, one hired by the defense and another by prosecutors, examined Harrouff and found he suffered an acute psychotic episode during the attack, and couldn’t distinguish between right and wrong.”
Harrouff was also said to be known to smoke marijuana and take other psychotic drugs. He has said he was trying to escape a demon when the attack occurred.
His parents admitted that he had been acting odd for a number of weeks leading up to the murders. They reportedly even had set up a psychological evaluation, but the attacks happened prior to his appointment.
Harrouff reportedly was dining out with his parents on the night of the murders. While eating, Harrouff got up from the table, exited the establishment, wandered the streets and ended up walking more than three miles to where he would commit the murders, CBS 12 reported. Harrouff used a pocket knife in overtaking his victims.
“At some point during his trek, he strips off his clothes, then, naked, winds up outside John Steven’s house,” the news station reported. “The garage was furnished, a comfortable place to hang out with neighbors and take in fresh air with the door up.
“That night it became the scene of a savage and baffling massacre.”