Father charged in murder of 3 daughters faces big day in court

7:48 AM, Dec 4, 2012   |    comments
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RIVER FALLS, Wis. - The man charged with killing his three young daughters inside their River Falls home in July faces an important day in the courtroom Monday.

Aaron Schaffhausen is scheduled to go on trial for three counts of intentional homicide for the deaths of 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia. All three girls were found tucked into their beds with their throats slit.  He also faces one count of attempted arson.

Monday's motion hearing focuses on what evidence can go to trial, including the 911 call and the police interrogation of Schaffhausen. Both the defense and prosecution are also expected to argue whether or not cameras should be allowed in the coutroom for April's jury trial.

Early in Monday's hearing the judge issued a "modified ruling" when it comes to cameras in the courtroom for the motion hearing only. Both prosecutors and the defense asked for cameras to be kept completely out of the courtroom during witness testimony to avoid tainting potential jurors.

Defense attorney John Kucinski is asking the judge to compel prosecutors to provide a list of statements made by Aaron Schaffhausen that they plan to use at trial. Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Gary Freyberg argues that the list is not necessary, and compiling it will inhibit their preparation for trial.

Amidst Monday's hearing, a deadline looms for Schaffhausen and his attorney. They have until December 14th to decide whether they will plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

Criminal defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who isn't connected to the Schaffhausen case, says winning an insanity defense is 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," Tamburino says.

Monday's hearing is expected to last several hours. KARE 11 will have a crew inside the courtroom and will have the latest on kare11.com and Monday's news broadcasts at 11 a.m, and 4, 5, and 6 p.m.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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