Judge sets insanity plea deadline in River Falls triple murder - New York News

Judge sets insanity plea deadline in River Falls triple murder

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HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) -

Aaron Schaffhausen was back in St. Croix County Circuit Court on Wednesday for a hearing to address several pre-trial motions before the trial against him gets underway.

Schaffhausen, 35, is accused of killing his three daughters -- 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia -- inside their River Falls, Wis., home. 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.

In court, Schaffhausen's public defender, John Kucinski, argued they should be able to plead not guilty by insanity at any point during the trial; however, the judge said that would add too many complications to an already complex case. In fact, the judge added that he wants to ensure the trial begins on April 1, and he gave the defense a deadline of Dec. 14 to place an insanity plea.

Another one of the many pre-trial motions on the docket concerned cameras in the courtroom, and Kucinski argued against while citing the Casey Anthony trial in Florida.

"Having those cameras doesn't help the public," he said. "The Supreme Court says they have no right to be in here."

Yet, the judge objected to the comparison, telling Kucinski the "garbage news every night" seen in the Anthony trial has not dogged Schaffhausen's. He will make his decision about the cameras next week.

A hundred pages of evidence are being considered, including autopsy photos, text messages, phone records and graphic photos of the scene inside the River Falls home.

Prosecutors are seeking a protective order asking that some of the photographs taken by the crew hired to clean the crime be kept protected so that Schaffhausen can see them but would not be allowed to get his own copies.

In court, prosecutors repeated their claim that Schaffhausen has expressed a desire to cause his ex-wife as much pain as possible and could use those pictures in that quest.

During the entire two-hour hearing in Hudson, Schaffhausen repeated his previous courtroom performances by sitting in silence.

He will be back in court on Dec. 3 for what is expected to be an all-day hearing that will include interrogations at the police department and jail. Prosecutors argue the statements Schaffhausen made and his body language imply guilt, but the defense has asked to have much of that evidence tossed out.

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