Martin County, Florida: The bench trial for Austin Harrouff, now 25, was scheduled to begin on Monday, November 28, but during a hearing Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer accepted his plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Both the prosecution and defense had agreed to allow the judge to make the determination based on evidence available.
Harrouff was charged with two counts of first-degree murder with a weapon, attempted first-degree murder with a weapon and burglary of a dwelling with an assault or battery while armed after the August 2019 attack that left 59-year-old John Stevens and his wife, 53-year-old Michelle Mishcon Stevens dead, and seriously injured a neighbor that attempted to stop the attack.
Harrouff's trial faced various delays not only from the COVID-19 lock-downs, but also stemming from various psychological examinations, legal wrangling, and even a period of time to allow Harrouff time to recover from consuming a chemical he had found in the Stevens' garage.
Two different psychologists, one hired by each the prosecution and the defense, confirmed that Harrouff suffered from "an acute psychotic episode" during the attack which followed a period of time during which his parents noted that he was behaving strangely.
When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered Harrouff actively eating parts of one of his victim's faces and growling. It reportedly took several officers and a police K-9 as well as the use of a stun gun to subdue him.
It was suspected that Harrouff had ingested a hallucinagenic drug such as mushrooms or perhaps flaka/ bath salts before the attack.
Dr. Phillip Resnick, the psychologist hired by the defense, determined that Harrouff was "actively psychotic" and that he suffered from "clinical lycanthropy," the belief that he was half-man and half-dog. Additionally, Dr. Resnick reportedly found within Harrouff's records, statements claiming that "he was Jesus" and a preoccupation with the Illuminati.
In an interview conducted from the hospital before his arrest Harrouff told Dr. Phil that he had been paranoid and hearing voices leading up to the attack. His own mother allegedly reported that Harrouff had told her that he had superpowers and that there were demons in her house on the night of the attack.
Judge Bauer ruled that Harrouff would be held at the Martin County Jail until his transfer to a secure mental health facility can be arranged. He will remain at that facility, monitored by the Florida Department of Children and Families, until such a time that he is determined to no longer be a threat to the community or himself.
Judge Bauer further stated he will not be allowed to leave the facility without a court order.
Family members of John and Michelle Stevens expressed strong dissatisfaction with the outcome of the case calling it a matter of "White rich boy justice."