Family reacts to Schaffhausen verdict - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Family reacts to Schaffhausen verdict

Hudson (WQOW) - The verdict is in for a father who murdered his three daughters. A jury rejected the insanity defense and ruled that Aaron Schaffhausen is responsible for the deaths of those three girls.

He had already admitted to killing Amara, Sophie and Cecilia last summer at their home in River Falls, but claimed he was insane. For the past two weeks a jury has heard arguments about that claim.

On Tuesday, the jury found that Aaron Schaffhausen had a mental defect, but also ruled that Schaffhausen knew what he was doing was wrong when he murdered his girls.

During closing arguments Tuesday, the prosecution told the court Aaron Schaffhausen killed his three girls to get revenge on his ex-wife Jessica.

"Amara and Sophie and Cecilia died because their father chose to kill them for his own selfish reasons. He chose to kill them and betray everything a parent stands for because he was jealous and angry," says assistant attorney Gary Freyberg.

Schaffhausen's attorney argued he loved his daughters.

"I think the testimony has shown the only way Aaron would ever kill the girls he loved was if he was mentally ill," says John Kucinski, Schaffhausen's defense attorney.

After just three and a half hours of deliberations, the jury had reached a unanimous verdict.

The jury said he did have a mental defect, but that didn't stop him from knowing what he did was wrong. The prosecution says jurors got it right.

"The brutal nature of this case will stick with me forever. The courage shown by the victim's families will stick with me forever," says Freyberg.

"The family kind of views this as just one step that's going to be going forward in a long long process to try to grieve and recover from this tragedy," Jessica Schaffhausen's uncle, Flint Watt, explained Tuesday.

Aaron's family maintains he was mentally ill at the time of the murders, and still needs help.

"We're sad that the tragedy continues with the lack of compassion for Aaron's mental illness and the help he needed," says Aaron Schaffhausen's mother, Sue Allen.

Aaron Schaffhausen will likely spend the rest of his life behind bars because of Tuesday's verdict. Each of the three counts of first degree intentional homicide carries a mandatory life sentence.

The only thing a judge can decide now is when he might be eligible for parole.  His sentencing is scheduled for this July. Schaffhausen's attorney says he will appeal the verdict.


HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - Jurors in western Wisconsin say a father had a mental defect but is still responsible for killing his three young daughters last July.

   Aaron Schaffhausen pleaded guilty last month to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia. But he argued he was not responsible because of a mental illness.

   Jurors deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours before reaching their verdict.

   During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Gary Freyberg said Schaffhausen was in control of his actions and was a mean, callous person -- but not legally insane.

   Defense attorney John Kucinski argued Schaffhausen has a rare mental disorder, rooted in a deep dependency on his ex-wife.

   The jury found he had the capacity to know what he did was wrong.


HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - Jury: Wisconsin man had mental defect, but still responsible for killing 3 daughters.

Sentencing expected to be held in July or later.


HUDSON, Wis. (AP) - Jurors have reached a verdict in the insanity trial of a Wisconsin man who admitted he killed his three young daughters.

The jury began deliberating Tuesday afternoon whether 35-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen was legally insane when he killed the girls in their River Falls home last year.

During closing arguments, a prosecutor argued Schaffhausen killed the girls for revenge on his ex-wife. But defense attorneys say Schaffhausen loved his girls, and the only way he could have killed them would be because he was mentally ill.

Schaffhausen has pleaded guilty in St. Croix County Circuit Court to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted arson. But he maintains he's not responsible for killing 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie, and 5-year-old Cecilia because of a mental illness.

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.

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