FSU Student Who Allegedly Bit Victim's Face Is Possibly Mentally Ill: Lawyer
Austin Harrouff has been charged with two counts of murder for allegedly stabbing a Florida couple to death and trying to bite the man's face
A lawyer for Austin Harrouff, the teen accused of stabbing a Florida couple to death in August and biting one of the victim’s faces, said Tuesday the attack may have been the result of a mental illness.
“There does appear to have been an onset of mental illness,” defense attorney Robert Watson said in a video outside a Martin County, Florida, courthouse. “Whether that mental illness was also coupled with other behavior, I don’t know.”
Harrouff, 19, has been charged with two counts of murder along with attempted murder, resisting an officer without violence and burglary of a dwelling while armed in the Aug. 15 attack on John Stevens III, 59, and his 53-year-old wife Michelle Mishcon.
The attempted murder charge stems from Harrouff’s alleged stabbing of the couple’s neighbor, 47-year-old Jeff Fisher, who tried to stop the attack, police said.
He was denied bail for all charges except resisting an officer, for which his bail was set at $5,000. It was not immediately clear if he has entered a plea.
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“I realize that people want answers, people want to guess about this thing,” Watson said Tuesday. “But I like facts. So let’s find facts.”
Harrouff was hospitalized at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, in critical but stable condition for several weeks after the attack on Mishcon and Stevens.
But he was released from the hospital and taken to the Martin County Jail on Monday, the Palm Beach Post reports.
He entered the courthouse in silence on Tuesday, and Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told the Post that he had not yet spoken to authorities.
“It’s going to be up to him and his attorney whether he wants to give us a statement or not,” Snyder said.
The couple was found dead in the garage of their Tequesta, Florida, home almost immediately after the attack. Responding officers allegedly struggled to pull Harrouff off of Stevens as he bit into the victim’s face, authorities have said.
Police alleged that Harrouff drank hazardous household chemicals he found in the couple’s garage just moments before the attack.
Doctors said the teen had injuries consistent with caustic chemical consumption and Harrouff’s father, Wade Harrouff, told PEOPLE in August that the teen’s organs were failing as a result. Wade has also said that mental illness runs in his family.
Officials had initially speculated that Austin may have been under the influence of the synthetic drug flakka, but toxicology reports surrounding the drug are pending.
Austin tested negative for common street drugs such as heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
Authorities are still looking to determine a motive for the attack.