Father accused of killing 3 daughters mute in court again - New York News

Father accused of killing 3 daughters mute in court again

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RIVER FALLS, Wis. (KMSP) -

Aaron Schaffhausen maintained his silence in his second court appearance, resulting in an automatic not-guilty plea Tuesday during his arraignment in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

Prosecutors had predicted he might attempt to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; however, Schaffhausen's court-appointed attorney, John Kucinski, says there is no reason to suspect his client is mentally ill.

Schaffhausen, 35, is facing three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 11-year-old Amara Schaffhausen, 8-year-old Sophie Schaffhausen, and 5-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen. All three were found in their beds with their throats slit.

Last week, prosecutors also added an arson charge in connection with the can of gasoline that was found spilled in the basement of the home where the girl's bodies were found.

So far, Schaffhausen has not spoken in the courtroom. Instead, he has sat silently while Kucinski fielded any and all questions. Schaffhausen has only answered a few yes-or-no questions from the judge after repeated questioning.

Kucinski is fighting to protect his client's right to keep quiet, saying that law enforcement has attempted to use the jail's mental health therapist to interrogate Schaffhausen; however, the judge agreed with prosecutors' assertion that the St. Croix County Sheriff has an obligation to provide health care -- including mental health services -- to all inmates. 

Schaffhausen has been on suicide watch since he was taken into custody.

Schaffhausen, a construction worker from Minot, N.D, showed up at the River Falls home the girls shared with their mother for a surprise visit last month. His ex-wife, Jessica Schaffhausen, was not home at the time.

Jessica Schaffhausen told investigators her ex-husband had called from St. Paul, Minn., to ask if he could see their daughters. She agreed to let him visit as long as he would leave by 3:30 p.m. because she did not want to see him. The two had divorced in January.

The babysitter who had been at the home told police that Aaron Schaffhausen arrived at 1:25 p.m., and her mother picked her up from the home about 20 minutes later. At 3:30 p.m., Schaffhausen called his ex-wife and told her, "You can come home now because I killed the kids."

Aaron Schaffhausen later turned himself in to authorities. He has been jailed on $2 million bond since he was charged.

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