Aaron Schaffhausen: Plea decision delayed until Thursday - Fox 2 News Headlines

Aaron Schaffhausen: Plea decision delayed until Thursday

Updated:
  • Aaron Schaffhausen: Plea decision delayed until ThursdayMore>>

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    A St. Croix County judge on Thursday accepted Aaron Schaffhausen's plea of not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect to all four counts he faces in the murder of his three daughters.
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HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) -

Just days from the start of the trial, a St. Croix County judge delayed a plea decision regarding the murders of Aaron Schaffhausen's three daughters at their River Falls, Wis., home.

Schaffhausen was expected to plead guilty Wednesday morning, but none of the attendees expected the hearing to unfold as it did.

Defense attorney John Kucinski had told the Star Tribune that his client was going to plead guilty but maintain the insanity claim, but he now says that may not be the case.

Schaffhausen, of Minot, N.D., faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the July 10 deaths of his daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia.

In January, Schaffhausen pled not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Kucinski did not explain why his client planned to change his plea, and Schaffhausen gave no sign in the court either -- maintaining his silent stare.

Wednesday marked the first time that Jessica Schaffhausen came to the courtroom, protected by strict orders from the judge that prohibited anyone from taking a picture of her. Aaron Schaffhausen never looked at her during the course of the hearing.

Prosecutors told the judge that they are in a difficult position of not knowing how the trial will begin. As it stands, the trial will have two parts: The first places the burden of proof on prosecutors to convince the jury that Aaron Schaffhausen killed his three daughters, and the second would involve the defense aiming to prove insanity.

Despite sending a letter to prosecutors early Tuesday and even filing a motion earlier in the day about the plea, Kucinski described the last-minute maneuvering as a bouncing ball before haggling with prosecutors over what evidence and discussion would be allowed at trial -- particularly focusing on pictures of the girls both dead and alive.

"We do object to any live activities or depiction of children," Kucinski told the court. "I don't' think there is any authority. The only purpose of any live viewing is to inflame the jury."

Another hearing is set to take place Thursday at 1 p.m., and it's unclear what will unfold. Either way, jury selection will begin on Monday.


Follow FOX 9 reporter Leah Beno on Twitter @LeahBenoFox9

 

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