HUDSON, Wis. (WCCO) – Aaron Schaffhausen sat silently in the St. Croix County courtroom as Judge Howard Cameron admonished both sides. With the homicide trial set to begin in one month, the judge wants both prosecution and defense attorneys to keep their cases focused and to the point.
At a motions hearing on Friday, Judge Cameron made it clear that irrelevant evidence and testimony will only anger him and slow what is expected to be a lengthy and difficult trial.
But defense attorney John Kucinski expects a quicker outcome for the trial
“I don’t think it will even go past three weeks,” Kucinski said.
But when asked if his client will take the stand in his own defense, Kucinski said it’s too early to tell – adding that Schaffhausen is cooperating, but is despondent and depressed.
“We haven’t made up our mind on that yet. I would think not, but everything changes. A lot depends on what comes out,” he said.
Schaffhausen entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. Friday in court, much of the discussion over motions dealt with the expert psychiatric testimony that is expected to be presented at trial.
Schaffhausen’s defense will hinge largely on the belief that he was driven to insanity over the couple’s 2011 breakup and divorce.
The state will try to prove that Schaffhausen killed his three daughters – Cecelia, Sophie and Amara – to get back at his wife.
Assistant State Attorney General Gary Freyberg, who is prosecuting the case, has submitted a potential witness list that includes the names of over 100 people.
“There’s a lot to do to prepare witnesses of course, marshaling arguments to make sure the case we present is solidly based on the evidence,” Freyberg said.
He also indicated in court that the girl’s mother, Jessica, will be called as a witness but is not likely going to attend the three-week trial.
Jury selection is set to begin on April 1 at the nearby Hudson Country Club. With more than 160 jurors in the prospective pool, the county courthouse lacks sufficient space necessary.