Caribbean Fever - Your ONLY destination to all things Caribbean and more
Cindy Mishcon (pictured left), sister of murder victim Michelle Mishcon (right with husband John Stevens, slammed 'white, rich boy justice' after Austin Harrouff (pictured middle), 25, was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Harrouff is accused of randomly attacking and killing the couple (inset) at their home in Florida in 2016 before eating John's face. He and his parents claim that he was mentally ill at the time. Harrouff was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Families of the victims angrily rejected this defense, arguing Harrouff was a drug addict who was well-aware of what he was doing when he committed the crime. 'Here we are opening the prison doors for a double murderer,' Ms said. 'Four words come to mind. White, rich boy justice.'
Cindy Mishcon, the sister of murder victim Michelle Mishcon, slammed 'white, rich boy justice' after Austin Harrouff was found not guilty by reason of insanity on Monday
Austin Harrouff, 25, was found not guilty by reason of insanity for the 2016 murders of John Stevens, 59, and his wife Michelle Mishcon Stevens, 53, at their home in Florida
Michelle and John Stevens were murdered in their garage in 2016 when Harrouff allegedly entered a mental episode and thought he was 'half dog, half man'
In court on Monday, several family members presented victim impact statements directed at Harouff, his family, the defense team, and prosecutors.
Cindy Mishcon, who is also an attorney, laid out a methodical case of why she does not believe that Harrouff was insane when the killings occurred.
'You can't even look at me?' she asked Harrouff, who was sitting at the defense table, wearing a red and white striped prison uniform and glasses.
She said that she had begun writing her victim impact statement when she was 'naive enough' to think there would be justice
indy Mishcon said that reality set in for her as she listened to tapes of Harrouff's jailhouse phone calls with family members and the reading of pages of text messages in the year prior to the killings, which were part of the court record.
The text messages with his friends outlined the life of a student who was smoking marijuana, taking other drugs and abusing alcohol during the year before killing the couple.
She said she realized 'you don't care about anyone but yourself' and that 'the only victim you and your family see is you, and the Harrouff name.'
'Is it really so hard for you to understand that you are a cold-blooded murderer and not a victim,' she asked.
'I ask myself, why are we here today?' she said. 'Why is there no trial? Why is my family being denied justice?'
Other family members echoed her sentiments.
'I didn't really know you could brutally murder two people, attempt to kill another, and not even have a trial,' Jodi Bruce, another sister of Mishcon, said. 'That was news to me.'
Two years after entering a not guilty plea on the grounds of insanity in 2020 it was accepted by Circuit Judge Sherwood Bauer in Martin County, Florida on Monday.
His ruling meant that Harrouff would be involuntarily committed into the custody of the Department of Children and Families for placement in a secured mental health facility.
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.
'I didn't really know you could brutally murder two people, attempt to kill another, and not even have a trial,' Jodi Bruce, another sister of Mishcon, said. 'That was news to me'
Jodi Bruce, sister of murder victim Michelle Mishcon, gives her statement in court on Monday
The decision was made during the first and final day of a trial that was expected to last three weeks.
Harrouff was a 19-year-old student at Florida State University when he killed the couple and stabbed a neighbor that came to help them, prosecutors say.
Bauer heard through documents filed in the court that in 2016 Harrouff entered a psychotic episode that left him thinking he was 'half-dog, half-man' when he attacked the couple near his Florida home.
Harrouff's attack made national headlines for its extreme brutality. He had been out for dinner at a restaurant with his father when he began acting erratically and left.
Evidence provided to the court as the mental state of Austin Harrouff was being determined
He then walked two miles to his mother's house where he mixed cooking oil with parmesan and attempted to drink it before his mother took him back to the restaurant.
After another altercation with his father, restaurant security footage showed Harrouff calmly leaving the restaurant 45 minutes before the attack.
He then walked four miles toward the Stevens' home where he entered their open garage and used their own tools to murder them.
Harrouff told TV psychiatrist Dr Phil he was escaping a demon he called Daniel and that he had only vague recollections of the killings.
He said he encountered Michelle Stevens in the couple's garage. She screamed, and 'then it's a blur,' he said.
'I don't remember what she said - I just remember being yelled at,' Harrouff said.
He said he grabbed a machete but doesn't remember why he killed her and her husband. He drank a range of additional chemicals in the couple's garage that caused him critical injuries.
When police arrived at the house they found the couple dead and Harrouff biting at John's face. Police said that they were threatening Harrouff with a dog, tasing him, and kicking him in the head to get him to stop.
Harrouff was a 19-year-old student at Florida State University when he killed the couple (pictured) and stabbed a neighbor that came to help them, prosecutors say
Since the incident in 2016, Harrouff has said that cannot remember the details but believed God and demons were talking to him as attacked the couple in the brutal attack