Defendant in face-biting attack challenges insanity rules

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Attorneys for a Florida man accused of killing a couple and chewing the husband’s face attacked the constitutionality of the state’s laws governing insanity defenses.

Austin Harrouff’s attorneys argued Thursday the law wrongly places the burden of proof on defendants instead of prosecutors.

Attorney Robert J. Watson also told Judge Sherwood Bauer Jr. the law’s requirement that defendants prove insanity to a “clear and convincing” level of proof discriminates against the mentally ill because it is a higher burden than self-defense or duress. Under self-defense, prosecutors must prove it wasn’t. Defendants who claim duress must prove it is more likely than not.

The 22-year-old Harrouff is charged with murdering 59-year-old John Stevens III and 53-year-old Michelle Mishcon in 2016.

Bauer said he would rule soon. Harrouff’s trial is scheduled for the fall.

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