MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- The son of a man allegedly killed by Austin Harrouff is reacting to a video released Tuesday of Harrouff being interviewed by Dr. Phil.
Dr. Phil interviewed Harrouff while he was still hospitalized for injuries he sustained the night he is accused of killing John Stevens and Michelle Mishcon.
He’s also been charged with the attempted murder of Jeff Fisher, a good Samaritan who was critically injured trying to save the couple.
From the interview, it appears Wade Harrouff, Austin’s father, initiated the interview with Dr. Phil. At one point, Dr. Phil thanks Wade Harrouff for contacting him.
In the interview, Harrouff describes how he remembered very little of the night of the attack, but details an imaginary figure he named Daniel who he described seeing that night.
At one point, Dr. Phil asks Harrouff to look at the camera and apologize to the families of the victims.
“It’s like a nightmare,” Harrouff cried. “I’m so sorry and I never wanted this to happen.”
But the apology didn’t sway the feelings the family of the members of Harrouff’s alleged victims. John Stevens Jr. does not accept Harrouff’s apology.
“He’s not crazy. He’s just not. He’s an evil person and he deserves to be in jail. If he acknowledged that, we can start there. But this apology, I absolutely reject it.” Stevens Jr. said.
He felt Harrouff was being ‘coached’ through the interview in an effort to support a possible insanity defense. “All of this is an elaborate lie.”
Stevens Jr. says he’s also disappointed by what he did not hear in the interview.
“Austin is someone who I haven’t heard say our names yet. So, I don’t think he cares. I think Austin feels primarily sorry for himself now that his life of privilege has come to an end,” Stephens Jr. said.
He also takes offense not only to comments made by Austin Harrouff, but Harrouff’s father at one point in the interview.
Dr. Phil describes Jeff Fisher’s injuries as critical.
Wade makes a clarification.
“From what I hear, Dr. Phil, I'm pretty sure it wasn’t critical,” Wade Harrouff said.
“Jeff Fisher is a hero,” Stevens Jr. said. “How selfish to say something like that. That’s one of the things that bothers me the most,” Stephens Jr. said.
He supported the release of the video, saying he wanted people to ‘see who Austin really is.’
Harrouff’s attorneys say they knew nothing about the interview when it was conducted.
A defense attorney not involved with the case, Michael Salnick, says the video could become a challenge for the defense in a trial.
“You’ve got the psychological hurdles. You’ve got the [question] why he gave the interview. You’ve got the prejudice of the jury. This has opened up a legal can of worms that is huge,” Salnick said.
Stevens Jr. says forgiveness is not out of the picture, but it will take much more time, and a much different statement from Harrouff.
“If Austin wants to apologize, he should abandon his legal defense. Tell us the truth.”
Stevens Jr. says his young daughter will grow up without a grandfather. He is sure to talk about his father everyday, he says, so she knows who he was.