Father accused of killing daughters in River Falls back in court

9:33 PM, Dec 2, 2012   |    comments
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RIVE FALLS, Wis. -- Aaron Schaffhausen is accused of killing his three daughters inside their home in July. He will be back in court Monday for a motion hearing.

The hearing will focus on what evidence can go to trial and whether cameras will be allowed in the courtroom. While the judge hears arguments from both sides another deadline looms. Schaffhausen and his attorney have until December 14 to decide if they want to plead not guilty by insanity.

Joe Tamburino has been a criminal defense attorney for 23 years.
He knows firsthand how tough an insanity plea is.

"An insanity defense is pretty difficult. In Wisconsin they have what's called 'substantial capacity' which means that a defendant, in this case, Mr. Schaffhausen would have to have a mental disease or defect to an extent where he just couldn't conform his behavior to legal conduct or couldn't recognize the wrongfulness of his acts," he said.

Proving that could be difficult. According to the criminal complaint and police reports Schaffhausen called his ex-wife to say he was in town and wanted to see the kids. Later that day he called his ex-wife back and told her she could come home, he killed the kids.

"All of those things are going to be problematic for the defense in any type of a mental illness because it would show that the defendant knew what was happening there was some planning, he understood his actions.

Tamburino said if mental illness is raised there would essentially be two trials, one where a jury decides if the facts have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and two, whether Schaffhausen is suffering from a mental disease.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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