Reporting John Lauritsen
HUDSON, Wis. (WCCO) — The mother of three little girls who were murdered in Wisconsin last year testified Wednesday in the first phase of her ex-husband’s murder trial.
Aaron Schaffhausen has already admitted to the murders, and the current leg of his trial is to determine whether he was insane at the time. Last week, Aaron Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to the stabbing murders of the couple’s three children — 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia.
Jessica Schaffhausen broke down briefly at the start of her testimony, when she was asked to identify a photograph of her three daughters.
“Yes,” she sobbed, “those are my babies,” before quickly regaining her composure. At least one juror could be seen wiping away tears after her reply.
Testifying in a clear and concise manner, the 33-year-old testified that during their 12-year relationship Aaron Schaffhausen was always depressed. In May 2011, she described him as “catatonically depressed” and that a therapist had prescribed the anti-depressant Celexa.
“I don’t think he ever came out of it,” she said.
She testified that by 2011, Aaron Schaffhausen was playing video games 8 hours a day, had quit school and was working only sporadically. She said that after she filed for divorce in August 2011, “he stopped talking to the girls, he would call my (phone) number 30 times a day. He was mad at me because I didn’t want to stay married to him.”
The judge ruled her testimony would not be videotaped.
Also on Wednesday, the moments after a River Falls, Wis. father turned himself in to police for killing his daughters were presented in court.
For most of the interrogation, Aaron Schaffhausen stared blankly in front of him. You could hear him crying at the beginning of the video, as the officer read his rights, but he would not speak.
At times, when left alone in the interrogation room, you can see Aaron Schaffhausen lay his head on the desk in front of him.
It was only after the officer pressed Aaron Schaffhausen about the way he killed the girls that he finally broke his silence.
“Can you give them (my girls) back to me?” Aaron Schaffhausen said. “Then quite offering the world like you have it. Like you have the keys.”
The defense is using the video to try to help prove its assertion that Aaron Schaffhausen was insane when he killed his daughters, and didn’t premeditate the murders as the prosecution claims.
On Tuesday, Aaron Schaffhausen remained emotionless in court. In opening statements, the defense said that he was haunted by thoughts of killing his ex-wife and kids, saying he had those thoughts eight or more times a day.
Prosecutors, however, say that the evidence is overwhelming that what Aaron Schaffhausen did was intentional and premeditated. They believe he had a goal, and that was to make his ex-wife suffer.
If Aaron Schaffhausen is found guilty he will spend the rest of his life in prison. If he’s found insane, he will go to a state mental hospital and could someday be released.