RIVER FALLS, Wis. (WCCO) — A Wisconsin man accused of killing his three daughters at their River Falls home in 2012 was back in court Friday.
Aaron Schaffhausen is serving three life sentences for killing his daughters: 1-year-old Amara, 5-year-old Cecilia, and 8-year-old Sophie.
The question Friday wasn’t about the crimes he’s committed, but rather the impact they’ve had on the mother of his children.
Jessica Schaffhausen, who now goes by Jessica Peterson, was not in court Friday.
“It would be just too incredibly difficult for her to go through and detail her suffering,” said assistant state attorney general Gary Freyberg, who was seeking restitution on her behalf.
He said the mental anguish the mother suffered required months of therapy and that her ex-husband was accountable.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why Jessica missed work,” Freyberg said.
Schaffhausen’s attorney argued that his ex-wife’s medical bills weren’t enough, and questioned why she didn’t have a note from a doctor.
“I don’t think it would have taken much for someone who is counseling her to have written a document indicating — I’ve treated her,” said attorney John Kucinski.
As attorneys went back and forth, Schaffhausen showed no expression, even when Judge Howard Cameron called a recess to go over documents.
After reviewing court documents for 45 minutes, Cameron returned to court and ruled that Schaffhausen must pay his ex-wife restitution in the sum of more than $14,000.
Twenty-five percent of Schaffhausen’s prison wages will go to Peterson, plus any other money family may give him while in prison.
In an emotional statement, Cameron said his decision came down to common sense.
“I never lost a child so I can’t understand what Mrs. Schaffhausen is going through,” the judge said. “Let’s get that straight. Unless you’ve lost a child, you can’t understand it.”
Schaffhausen will also owe more than $10,000 in court costs.
He doesn’t have a job in prison right now, and Freyberg said he doubts the restitution will ever be fully paid.
Freyberg said the real justice comes from the life sentences Schaffhausen received.