Prosecutors seek to keep Schaffhausen evidence under wraps - New York News

Prosecutors ask judge to keep Schaffhausen evidence under wraps

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HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) -

During Aaron Schaffhausen's last court appearance he stood mute, forcing the judge to enter a not guilty plea for him. He maintained that silence on Thursday, but his attorney certainly did not.

The lengthy hearing in St. Croix County Court began at 3 p.m. Thursday, and over an hour was spent haggling over sensitive evidence as prosecutors filed a motion for protection to keep graphic photos of the scene from becoming public, saying they feared what Schaffhausen might do to cause more pain.

"We are simply trying to make sure that the defendant personally cannot make inappropriate use of these materials," Prosecutor Gary Freyberg said. "I want to emphasize that to the court, that this will in no way interfere with the defense's ability to prepare its case."

Freyberg argued that no one -- including the defense team -- should be able to access copies for fear that they would somehow end up becoming public.

"Because the materials are graphic and sensitive, they could be -- in other cases -- the cause of embarrassment for witnesses or victims," said Freyberg of the hundred pages of evidence, which include autopsy photos and pictures from inside the River Falls home where the girls were killed.

However, Schaffhausen's defense attorney, John Kucinski, argued that he not only needs copies, but any expert he hires will too.

"If the goal is that Aaron would not be allowed to have a copy, then all the protective order has to say is that neither defense counsel or anybody else will give Aaron a copy," Kucinski said.

Among the pages of evidence were phone calls and text messages that the judge agreed could be embarrassing, but he did find sufficient concern that the man accused of murdering his own children to put his ex-wife through agony might look for any way -- even from jail -- to cause more harm.

Under the protective order, Schaffhausen's defense attorney will be get copies of the evidence and he may share them anyone who is not an expert being consulted for the trial. Schaffhausen will not be able to keep any copies and would only be able to review them alongside his attorney.

Kucinski also told the judge his client's constitutional rights are being violated because a mental health worker visits him three times a week. He says that worker is an agent of the state and that prosecutors and jail staffers are working together to document facts that can be used against him.

Kucinski went on to say jailers have been ordered to document any behavior, interactions and visits. In the long run, Kucinski believes this will hurt any kind of an insanity defense.

St. Croix County sheriff's officials say they're just providing health care to an inmate, which they're required to do. Schaffhausen is accused of killing this three young daughters -- 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia -- inside their River Falls, Wis., house.

He is also facing a charge of arson for allegedly trying to light the house on fire after the killings. A can of gas was found tipped over in the basement when police discovered the girls' bodies.

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