Friend of Austin Harrouff’s victims says decision ‘shocking’
TEQUESTA, Fla. – After Austin Harrouff was discovered not responsible by purpose of madness within the taking pictures and killing of a Tequesta couple, a pal of the victims mentioned the deal between the protection and prosecution was “shocking” and “disappointing.”
Harrouff, now 25, randomly attacked and killed John Stevens, 59, and his spouse, Michelle Mishcon Stevens, 53, in 2016.
The deal between the protection and prosecution averted a trial that was scheduled to start Monday earlier than District Judge Sherwood Bauer.
Harrouff, who at one level chewed off one of the sufferer’s faces and assaulted a 3rd individual, is now set to go to a psychiatric hospital.
“It’s crazy that something would go down in a neighborhood like this,” mentioned Nicholas Leone, who grew up figuring out the victims. “They had holidays, Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and anyone in the neighborhood was welcome.”
“What was your reaction when you heard he was acquitted by reason of insanity?” requested WPTV reporter Joel Lopez to Leone.
“I didn’t know until you told me now, it’s shocking, it’s really disappointing,” Leone mentioned. “Honestly, I think someone like that who took the lives of two people and almost killed a third with the neighbor across the street, I think his life should end.”
Leone says that after the incident, his household put in safety cameras round their residence for security.
“It’s just horrible, I still think he should be punished for this,” Leone mentioned. “I remember seeing Michelle walking the dog up and down the street, I’d always be riding my bike or something and I’d always say ‘hello’ and wave to her.”
“Not guilty by reason of insanity doesn’t mean you have to go home, he’s not going home. He’s being involuntarily committed to a mental health facility that he can’t leave,” mentioned WPTV authorized analyst Michelle Suskauer.
Harrouff will endure remedy the place he will likely be monitored by medical doctors and well being consultants.
“This resolution doesn’t bring anyone back and it doesn’t undo anything that’s been done, but the case had to end and both sides felt that was the right thing to do,” Suskauer mentioned.
But Harrouff could be launched.
Suskauer says if sooner or later these consultants determine he’s mentally competent, then there will likely be a listening to earlier than the courtroom for a decide to determine if he could be launched.
“There would be testimony and expert testimony from both the state and the defense, and then a judge would have to decide whether or not he could be released,” Suskauer mentioned. “So this is not just one person’s opinion. There are a number of steps that need to be taken and it is taken very seriously.”
Initially, two psychological well being consultants, one employed by the protection and one other by prosecutors, examined Harrouff and located that he suffered an acute psychotic episode throughout the assault and couldn’t inform proper from mistaken.
The decide mentioned Harrouff will stay within the Martin County Jail till he’s despatched to a safe psychological well being facility.
“I think it’s disappointing that someone like that can go through mental rehabilitation and then walk out on the street like nothing ever happened like they never did anything wrong,” Leone mentioned. “Very disappointing from a justice perspective and for those of us who care about them.”