Schaffhausen changes plea to guilty in daughters' murders - FOX 35 News Orlando

Schaffhausen changes plea to guilty in daughters' River Falls murders

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HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) -

Aaron Schaffhausen entered a guilty plea Thursday afternoon to all charges in the murders of his three daughters at their River Falls, Wis., home; however, he maintains he shouldn't be held responsible because he was insane.

Speaking for the first time in court on Thursday, Schaffhausen said he would like mental health treatment, which he has refused while in jail. 

Schaffhausen answered the judge's questions with a flat tone of voice, displaying a lack of emotion regarding his new plea.

"Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?" Judge Howard Cameron asked at one point.

"Yes," Schaffhausen responded.

The Minot, N.D. man was charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted arson in the July 10 deaths of his daughters: 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia. In January, Schaffhausen pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

With the plea now changed, the prosecutors will no longer need to attempt to prove Schaffhausen killed his daughter and tried to set fire to their home last July.

Instead, the trial will only require the defense to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Schaffhausen had a mental disease or defect that meant he either lacked the ability to appreciate what he did was wrong or could not control his impulses.

However, prosecutors claim that Schaffhausen killed his three daughters to get back at his ex-wife, Jessica, because he was bitter over their recent divorce and thought she had begun seeing another man.

The divorce papers were filed jointly in January 2011, but there are a few signs that the dissolution of the marriage didn't spell the end of trouble for the couple.

"River Falls police records indicate there was a domestic incident in August 2009 at the Morningside residence, and a March 2012 harassment incident where the father allegedly threatened to harm at least one of the children," River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque confirmed.

The March incident refers to a phone call made by Aaron Schaffhausen as he was living in Minot; however, The Minot Police Department's report shows that the threats were made against his wife, not the kids. No charges were ever filed.

Officers in Minot told FOX 9 News they spoke with Schaffhausen, who said he had no intention of going back to Wisconsin.

Jury selection is to begin Monday in St. Croix County Circuit Court.


Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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