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Accused Face-Biting Killer Calls Murders ‘A Nightmare’

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WEST PALM BEACH (CBSMiami) – It was like “a nightmare.”

That’s how accused face-biting killer Austin Harrouff described the August 15th killings of John Stevens and his wife Michelle.

Harrouff opened up to Dr. Phil McGraw from his hospital bed just two weeks after his arrest. The video tape of that interview was released to the public on Tuesday on a Martin County judge’s orders.

Harrouff’s attorney had argued against the release of the video.

Attorney Nellie King, part of Harrouff’s defense council, issued a statement after the judge denied their request.

“Although defense counsel agrees with the trial court’s ruling that nothing in the video clip provided is prejudicial to Austin Harrouff, “sensationalizing the details of this case pre-trial does nothing to advance justice in the courtroom,” King said. “Nor does this pre-trial discovery information help those suffering from this tragedy, including the family members of Mr. Stevens and Ms. Mischcon.”

King also noted that the tape,”represents ‘just one of many pieces of evidence demonstrating the deterioration of Austin’s mental health.’ The video ‘shows Austin when he was in a vulnerable state, recovering from acute medical and psychological trauma in the sanctity of his hospital room’.”

Harrouff is accused of fatally stabbing John and Michelle Stevens inside the garage of their Tequesta home. When Martin Co. Sheriff’s deputies arrived, they found Harrouff biting Stevens’ face.

In the interview, Harrouff tells Dr. Phil that he remembers two incidents where he thought he was acting strangely.

He said he never took steroids or bath salts. When asked whether he had taken flakka, Harrouff said he really didn’t know what that is and never took it.

On the night of the attack, Harrouff said he sort of remembers leaving a restaurant, where he had dinner with his parents, and walking toward a friend’s house. He said at the time he wasn’t thinking straight and everything is a blur.

He said when he saw a person he called “Daniel” he became afraid and thought he needed help.

“When I saw him it wasn’t like a clear person, it was like a dark figure because it was like pitch black outside and I couldn’t really see, but I heard his voice, distinctly, and when I saw him I just got scared out of my mind,” said Harrouff.

Harrouff said he panicked and ran for help, that’s when he found the open garage door. He added that he didn’t remember it at first but now has a faint memory of taking off his pants before he ran into his friend.

In the garage, Harrouff said he encountered Michelle.

“I don’t think I yelled, I just showed up and I think she was shock because I was almost naked. I mean I understand that but I just didn’t know I was not clothed properly,” he said.

Harrouff said he doesn’t remember what she said but he does remember being yelled at. He said he really doesn’t remember what happened next. He said he doesn’t remember getting into an altercation with Michelle or her husband who came in later.

Harrouff said he remembers he was holding a machete and thinks he got it from the garage, but doesn’t know why he picked it up.

Dr. Phil then asked Harrouff if during this time he realized what was going on.

“No, it’s like it happened but I don’t, it’s distorted, like I wasn’t aware of it at the time. I remember at the end saving a dog and hijacking a car. After that it’s a blur.”

When asked if he’s seen a picture of the couple he’s accused of killing, Harrouff begins to get very emotional.

“I feel terrible. I really, really don’t have words to explain how I feel. It’s like a nightmare,” he said.

When asked if it’s hard to imagine that he did this to the couple, Harrouff replied, “Yeah, it’s the hardest thing that I have ever gone through. I never imagined that this would ever happen and I am deeply sorry to the family that was affected. I hope that something like this never happens again.”

“Austin are you ashamed of what you did,” asked Dr. Phil.

“Yes, yes, yes,” replied Harrouff. “I just wanted to let them know that I’m sorry. I can imagine how it must feel to lose a bunch of close relatives.”

During the interview, McGraw asked Harrouff about his feelings of “super powers” and that he could read people.

“So, in looking back, you recognize that there has been a period of time, weeks even months, that you have been losing touch with reality,” said Dr. Phil.

“Yeah,” he replied.

“That you’ve had paranoia, that you’ve had ideas of grandiosity, of super powers, being worshiped, I mean God-like sorts of things that have gone on with you,” said Dr. Phil.

“Yeah,” he said.

“This wasn’t just something that happened overnight, this was something that’s gone on with you for a period of time,” said Dr. Phil.

“Yeah, I guess so,” said Harrouff.

When asked if he thought he was mentally ill, Harrouff replied,”Yes, I guess so.”

He added that he wouldn’t resist psychological treatment if it was ordered by the court.

John Stevens’ son doesn’t believe Harrouff was having a psychotic episode and spoke to CBS4’s Joan Murray over the phone on Tuesday.

“He’s lying,” said John Stevens IV. “He knows it’s his only chance to avoid spending the rest of his life in prison and if I were a member of the community I would take it personally. They want to re-inject this person back into your community. This could be anybody’s parents. It could be anybody.”

Dr. Phil has previously played a role in this case. Harrouff’s father spoke to him in September, apologizing for the killings.

Harrouff’s interview with “Dr. Phil” will air Thursday on CBS4 at 3 p.m.

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