Was Killer Face-Biter Insane? Here's One Take

A psychiatrist says Austin Harrouff was, in fact, out of his mind
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 7, 2020 11:30 AM CST
Psychiatrist Gives His Take on Killer Face-Biter
This Oct. 3, 2016, file photo, provided by the Martin County Sheriff's Office, shows Austin Harrouff.   (Martin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

(Newser) – A prosecution psychiatrist says a Florida college student was legally insane when he fatally attacked a couple outside their home, chewing off part of the man's face, court documents filed this week show. Gregory Landrum's finding bolsters the case of Austin Harrouff's attorneys, who are planning to argue the 23-year-old should be found not guilty by reason of insanity at his murder trial, which had been scheduled for May but was postponed indefinitely Thursday, the AP reports. He faces a life sentence if convicted of murdering John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon Stevens in August 2016. Landrum outlined Harrouff's declining mental state before the killings, including God and demons talking to him, increasing paranoia, and other hallucinations.

He noted that Harrouff is being treated for schizophrenia while jailed. As a result, Landrum concluded, "Harrouff was unable to distinguish right from wrong" when he killed the Stevenses—the legal standard in Florida for being found not guilty by reason of insanity. The story goes back to a terrifying night in Palm Beach in 2016, when deputies found a horrific scene: Michelle Stevens, 53, lay mangled and dead in the garage and Harrouff, then a muscular exercise science major at Florida State University, was attacking and biting her 59-year-old husband on the driveway. A deputy's dog apparently bit Harrouff, enabling deputies to subdue him. "Shoot me now; I deserve to die," Harrouff said, according to court documents. (Read more about the case.)

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