SCHAFFHAUSEN TRIAL: Jurors hear emotional 911 call - New York News

SCHAFFHAUSEN TRIAL: Jurors hear emotional 911 call

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RIVER FALLS, Wis. (KMSP) -

Testimony began Tuesday in the murder trial of Aaron Schaffhausen in River Falls, and on the very first day, jurors heard an emotional 911 call made by the mother of the slain children.

Although he pleaded guilty, family members will still endure difficult testimony as prosecutors seek to prove that Aaron Schaffhausen was a calculating and jealous man who acted out of revenge, not insanity as the defense claims.

Public defender John Kucinski paints a very different picture, claiming that a Schaffhausen's actions were the result of a rare and complex psychological condition.

After the opening arguments were made, the chilling 911 call made by Jessica Schaffhausen left the Wisconsin courtroom in stunned silence.

"My ex-husband just called and told me he killed my kids," Jessica Schaffhausen told the 911 operator.

Ailene Splittgerber, a police secretary with the River Falls Police Department, was on the other end of the line when that frantic phone call was made.

"She was very upset -- hysterical, hyperventilating," Splittgerber testified. "She stated her ex-husband had called her and told her that she could come home now that he had killed her kids."

During the 40-minute call, Jessica Schaffhausen did not know that her daughters were dead; however, knowing her husband, she feared the worst.

Aaron Schaffhausen sat motionless as jurors heard the recording. He has already admitted to killing his three young daughters, but what jurors now have to decide is why: Were the murders driven by mental illness as his defense attorney claims or did the 25-year-old murder his daughters out of a deep desire to punish his ex-wife for the couple's divorce?

"The evidence will show that he is not insane," said prosecutor Gary Freyberg. "He's just mean to a degree that's almost inconceivable for the rest of us. He's mean to the point that he put his desire for revenge above the lives of his children, whom he simply viewed as objects."

Prosecutors will try to convince the jury that the slayings were premeditated, citing the fact that they were committed the day after the couple's six-month waiting period to remarry and that Aaron Schaffhausen brought the weapons from North Dakota.

Wisconsin law requires 10 of the 12 jurors to agree that Aaron Schaffhausen suffered from a mental disease or defect in order to determine whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison or goes to a psychiatric hospital with the chance of being released someday.

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