A Florida judge is set to decide if a man who killed a Floridian couple in their home and then chewed one of the dead victims’ faces should spend the rest of his life in jail or go to a mental institution.
The decision by Judge Sherwood Bauer will come this week as she presides over the trial of former college student Austin Harrouff. Lawyers representing Austin waived his right to a trial by jury, leaving it up to Judge Bauer to decide if he was “insane” when he killed John and Michelle Stevens.
John and Michelle Stevens
A gruesome attack:
According to prosecutors, the former Florida State University student “randomly” attacked the Stevens in their garage in 2016. Police arriving on the scene said they found both John and Michelle Stevens dead after Austin used tools found inside their garage to kill them. When police located Austin, he had no pants on, was “biting chunks” off John Steven’s face, and consumed various chemicals inside the home after killing the two. According to the police, it took seven officers, a police dog, and a taser to subdue him.
Austin Harrouff photographed after being arrested by police
Found at the crime scene
A common question, why?
After being taken into custody, investigators began interviewing friends, family members, and going through Austin’s electronic devices. By all accounts, he was an ordinary college student according to friends and family before the incident. Austin had no criminal background and was an athlete.
Friends of Austin say two days before the murders, he purchased hallucinogenic mushrooms but ended up destroying them. A toxicology report on Austin showed no trace of the substance inside his body, or any other illegal substances. In addition, electronic records obtained by police showed he google searched “how to know if you are going crazy.”
Parents concerned weeks before the murders:
Austin’s parents, Wade and Mina, reported that weeks before their son committed the murders, he was acting “strange.” Wade Harrouff said he set up an appointment for his son to see a psychologist days before the murders happened. The night of the murder, Wade and his son were having dinner at a restaurant, and his son abruptly stormed out of the dinner and walked two miles to his mother’s home. Once there, he attempted to drink cooking oil. When Wade showed up to see his son, he grabbed him and said, “What is wrong with you” and watched as his son raised his fist and then left.
Austin Harrouff photographed being taken to the hospital after the murders
Austin’s mother, Mina, told police that days before the murders, he claimed to have “superpowers” and had moved his bed into the garage because he thought there were demons in the house. He also said he was sent to “help people.”
In an interview after the murders, Austin Harrouff said he was fleeing a demon named “Daniel” and had vague recollections of the murders. When asked about “Daniel,” he described him as a “dark figure” and said, “I got scared out of my mind.”
Austin said he never got a glimpse of the Demon but could hear his voice. When asked what he was thinking, Austin replied, “I just need to find someone to help me, to figure out where I am. I don’t even remember what I said to myself. I just remember being afraid, scared.”