HomeNewsJudge accepts insanity plea deal for Florida man in face-biting case

Judge accepts insanity plea deal for Florida man in face-biting case

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A decide accepted a plea deal Monday for a person who randomly killed a Florida couple of their storage six years in the past after which chewed on one sufferer’s face that can ship him to a psychological hospital for therapy.

Austin Harrouff, 25, pleaded not responsible by motive of madness to 2 counts of first-degree homicide and different costs for the 2016 slayings of John Stevens, 59, and his spouse, Michelle Mishcon Stevens, 53. He additionally significantly injured a neighbor who tried to assist them.

Harrouff, who attended Florida State College earlier than the assault, will probably be dedicated to a safe psychological well being facility till docs and a decide agree that he’s now not harmful. If the trial had gone ahead, Harrouff may have confronted life in jail.

Quite a few members of the family of the slain couple expressed anger on the choice and made sufferer affect statements directed at Harrouff, his household, the protection group and prosecutors.

Cindy Mishcon, the sister of Michelle Mishcon and an lawyer, laid out a methodical case of why she doesn’t imagine that Harrouff was insane when the killings occurred.

“You possibly can’t even have a look at me?” she requested Harrouff, who was sitting on the protection desk, sporting a pink and white striped jail uniform and glasses. She mentioned that she had begun writing her sufferer affect assertion when she was “naive sufficient” to suppose there can be justice.

Cindy Mishcon mentioned that actuality set in for her as she listened to tapes of Harrouff’s jailhouse cellphone calls with members of the family and the studying of pages of textual content messages within the yr previous to the killings, which have been a part of the court docket document. The textual content messages together with his mates outlined the lifetime of a pupil who was smoking marijuana, taking different medicine and abusing alcohol throughout the yr earlier than killing the couple.

Mourners exit a memorial service for John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon Stevens
Mourners exit a memorial service for John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon Stevens in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Aug. 19, 2016. Mike Stocker / South Florida Solar-Sentinel by way of AP

She mentioned she realized “you don’t care about anybody however your self” and that “the one sufferer you and your loved ones see is you, and the Harrouff title.”

“Is it actually so onerous so that you can perceive that you’re a chilly blooded assassin and never a sufferer,” she requested.

Different members of the family echoed her sentiments.

The settlement labored out between the protection and prosecution averted a trial that had been scheduled to begin Monday earlier than Circuit Decide Sherwood Bauer and had been anticipated to final three weeks.

The decide mentioned Harrouff will stay within the Martin County Jail till he’s taken to a safe psychological well being facility monitored by the Florida Division of Kids and Households. Bauer mentioned he won’t be allowed to go away the power with out a court docket order.

Two psychological well being consultants, one employed by the protection and one other by prosecutors, examined Harrouff and located he suffered an acute psychotic episode throughout the assault, and couldn’t distinguish between proper and unsuitable.

The trial had been delayed by the pandemic, authorized wrangling and Harrouff’s restoration from important accidents suffered whereas consuming a chemical throughout the assault.

Defendants are presumed sane underneath Florida regulation, that means that Harrouff should present he had a extreme psychological breakdown that prevented him from understanding actions or that they have been even unsuitable by “clear and convincing” proof.

He has claimed he was fleeing a demon when the assault occurred.

Craig Trocino, a College of Miami regulation professor, mentioned that discovering Harrouff not responsible by motive of madness would successfully be a life sentence as a result of “it’s extremely unlikely” that they’d threat releasing a killer as infamous as Harrouff.

Harrouff’s dad and mom and others mentioned he had acted surprisingly for weeks. His dad and mom had arrange an appointment for him to be evaluated, however the assault occurred first.

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