Austin Harrouff, 25, was deemed not guilty by reason of insanity Monday after hacking John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon to death with a machete in 2016. He was also accused of being a cannibal.
Because of this verdict, the victims’ families are fearful that Harrouff could end up back on the streets without ever being brought to justice.
The victims’ families rejected Harrouff’s account that he was mentally ill, and argued that he was a spoiled drug addict who was aware of the crime he had committed.
Michelle Mishcon’s sister, Cindy Mishcon, had much to say about Harrouff’s verdict. Cindy Mishcon poked fun at Harrouff’s insanity defense, reading from a long list of text messages written by Harrouff in the months and days leading up to the murders.
There is a long record of the killer’s drug use, alcohol consumption, and frequent blackouts in almost daily instances of substance abuse. Harrouff himself was the one who catalogued this usage.
Because of this written record, Cindy Mishcon alleged that her sister’s killer was not suffering from an organic mental illness. Rather, his disturbing actions were a direct byproduct of his abuse of drugs and alcohol.
Cindy Mishcon targeted Harrouf’s father, who appeared on “Dr. Phil” in 2018 to advocate for his son and outline his mental health struggles. It was discovered that Harrouf’s father had bought him the knife he had used in the murders the day before the crime.
Cindy claimed that it was nonsensical to think that the father would buy her sister’s killer a knife if he were truly believed to be insane. However, the prosecutors remained reluctant to pursue such details of the case.
The judge stressed that three respected doctors thought Harrouff was insane and declared the settlement after the victims’ families spoke. He also dismissed the argument that Harrouff’s highly paid attorneys tipped the legal scales.