Gruesome details revealed in day 1 of Schaffhausen trial

9:16 PM, Apr 2, 2013   |    comments
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HUDSON, Wis. - Aaron Schaffhausen sat in silence Tuesday as his attorney told the story of his fall from a husband to a defendant in a murder trial.

"Jessica and Aaron met in Mankato in college," John Kucinski told the jury.

The two married after Jessica became pregnant with Amara. Two more kids would follow, Sophie and Cecilia. Schaffhausen's attorney painted him as a man who had it all, beautiful kids, a wife and a home. But Kucinski said an ugly mental disease would take all of it away.

The defense said depression, heavy drinking and disinterest in life became a big problem for Schaffhausen. His erratic behavior caused the couple to divorce in January 2012. By then, Jessica was already seeing someone new, according to Kucinski, but under Wisconsin law a person must wait six months after a divorce to remarry.

Kucinski said as Aaron Schaffhausen saw Jessica move on without him his threats got more violent until July 10, 2012.

Ailene Splittberger, a secretary with River Falls police and one of five witnesses called to testify on Tuesday, told the court she got a phone call from Ramsey county dispatch on July 10. The woman on the line was a distraught Jessica Schaffhausen.

"She stated her husband had called her and told her she could come home now, he killed the kids," Splittberger testified.

She kept Jessica on the phone for 40 minutes and asked her questions about her ex-husband and her children. Splittberger told the jury she asked Jessica questions to distract her from thinking about what happened at the house. She managed to convince Jessica to come to police station instead of going to the home.

The jury heard the 911 call in its entirety. Jessica was hard to understand at times, often hyperventilating. At one point she tells Splittberger, "I'm so stupid."

Schaffhausen's lawyer told the jury he doesn't remember how or why he killed his daughters because he was in a dream state. Kucinski said all Schaffhausen remembers is chocking Cecilia and then there being a lot of blood.

But the prosecution argued Schaffhausen knew exactly what he was doing. Gary Freyberg, assistant state attorney general, said Aaron Schaffhausen was an obsessive and jealous man who wanted to make his ex-wife pay.

"He had a goal to accomplish and he did. The goal of making Jessica suffer," Freyberg told jurors in his opening statement.
On Wednesday, jurors will hear more testimony and watch a three-hour long video of Schaffhausen first police interview after he turned himself in.

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