Jury's verdict: Schaffhausen heading to prison, family speaks out

By  | 

HUDSON, Wisc. (WEAU) - After a couple of weeks at trial, the man who killed his three daughters now knows his fate.

Nine months after Aaron Schaffhausen murdered his three young daughters, a jury found that the father did have a mental defect, but that the defect was not to blame for the triple murder.

A family, a community and many in the justice system had been waiting for this day. Aaron Schaffhausen, who killed his three daughters will likely be sentenced to life in prison.

"The brutal nature of this case will stick with me forever," prosecutor Gary Freyberg said. "I feel very happy that the jury saw the truth of this case."

The 35-year-old Schaffhausen admitted to killing 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia by cutting their throats at their River Falls home last July to get revenge on his ex-wife. Tuesday, a St. Croix County jury ruled that he had a mental defect but he knew what he was doing when he killed the girls.

"He was guilty and he was sane," Freyberg said.

The defense, who's already planning an appeal, argued Schaffhausen was insane in part because he turned himself in.

"Here's a smart intelligent guy who does the dumbest thing on the world in front of everybody not hiding anything and somehow that's a plan," defense attorney John Kucinski said.

But instead of spending an indefinite time in a mental health facility, Schaffhausen will head to prison, providing some comfort to the victims' family. Tuesday, the girls' great uncle spoke to WEAU for the first time.

"Aaron's gonna be spending a long time thinking about what he's done, primarily to the girls and Jessica," Flint Watt said. "The family kind of views this as just one step that's gonna be going forward in a long long process to try to grieve and recover from this tragedy."

Freyberg said Schaffhausen could be sentenced in mid-July. He faces a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of life in prison.


HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- Jury: Wisconsin man had mental defect, but still responsible for killing three daughters. He'll likely be sentenced to life in prison.

The defense attorney says he'll appeal the verdict.

A St. Croix County jury rejected an insanity defense from Aaron Schaffhausen, who had admitted killing his girls last July.

The jury accepted that Schaffhausen had a mental defect but found it didn't keep him from understanding that what he was doing was wrong.

Attorney John Kucinski says Judge Howard Cameron instructed the jury on motive when it wasn't relevant to the case. He also said the judge shouldn't have denied the jury's request to have expert reports in the room as they deliberated.

We have a reporter getting reaction and will bring you the latest on WEAU 13 News at 10.

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- The defense attorney for a Wisconsin man who has admitted he killed his three young daughters says his client has a mental disease and should be sent to a psychiatric institution, not a prison.

Jurors are weighing whether Aaron Schaffhausen was legally sane when he killed 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia in their River Falls home last July.

During closing arguments Tuesday, defense attorney John Kucinski said the slayings were "psychogenetic killings" that arose from Schaffhausen's mental disease, triggered by the end of his marriage and loss of his children through divorce. He says Schaffhausen suffers from a rare disorder, rooted in a deep dependency on his wife.

Prosecutors have said Schaffhausen cut his girls' throats in a jealous rage. The government is now presenting its closing arguments.
HUDSON, Wis. (AP) -- The insanity trial of a man who has admitted killing his three young daughters in western Wisconsin is winding down.

Attorneys are scheduled to close arguments Tuesday in the Aaron Schaffhausen trial. Jurors will decide if he was legally sane when he killed 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia at their River Falls home last July. The defense maintains Schaffhausen is not responsible for the crimes because of a mental illness.

If Schaffhausen is found to be sane, he would likely go to prison for life. If the jury finds he was not responsible, he could be committed to a psychiatric institution and possibly could be released later.

We have a crew in Hudson today and will bring you the latest on WEAU 13 News at Five and Six.