Aaron Schaffhausen pleads guilty to killing daughters, but says he was insane

Schaffhausen girls rect.jpg
Schaffhausen and his daughters -- Sophie, Cecilia, and Amara.
Yesterday, Aaron Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to brutally murdering his three daughters last July in the River Falls home they lived in with their mother.

SEE ALSO: Edina Realty won't sell house where Aaron Schaffhausen allegedly killed his three girls

But Schaffhausen maintains he was insane and wants to serve his time in a mental facility rather than prison. The trial to evaluate his sanity is set to begin next week.

In court yesterday, Schaffhausen was asked whether he's been receiving mental health treatment in jail.

"I would like to have treatment, but it would have been used by the prosecution so I chose not to, under the advice of my attorney," he replied.

Schaffhausen's lawyer, John Kucinski, said Schaffhausen "believes that he has a mental illness, and he would like to end up in a mental health institute so he can understand how this could have ever happened to him or his three girls," according to a Pioneer Press report.

But Kucinski did say Schaffhausen "has a lot of remorse. He's depressed. He's been depressed for a long time."

KSTP reports that prosecutors plan to argue Schaffhausen murdered his girls "to get back at his ex-wife, Jessica, because he was bitter over their divorce and angry because he thought she had begun seeing another man."

In a court filing, prosecutor Gay Freyberg wrote: "If the killings were motivated by revenge, anger, jealousy, etc., they are not the product of a mental disease or defect."

If a jury determines Schaffhausen was indeed insane at the time of the killings -- meaning he lacked "substantial capacity" to understand the moral and legal implications of his actions -- he'd serve a life sentence in a psychiatric facility. He could eventually be released if a judge decides he doesn't pose a threat to society, but Kucinski says it's unlikely that would ever happen.


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18 comments
aliceallenmiller
aliceallenmiller

If doing something out of rage and jealousy makes you mentally ill, then we have all suffered from mental illness. He just wants a nice place to spend the rest of his life thats not prison.  Andrea Yates was mentally ill, this guy did it for the sole purpose of hurting the woman who scorned him.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

I don't have any idea what the deal is with this guy.  What he did seems pretty insane to me.  I think our legal definition of insanity is about 150 years out of date and needs to be changed.  I think everything else about our approach to mental illness is equally outdated.  Whatever is wrong with this guy needed to be addressed before he even got married, much less had kids; much less murdered them.  And I think a lot of people miss the fact that our legal system has nothing to do with the victims.  It's all about how the State proves its power over the Perpetrator.  Nothing more, nothing less.  How is putting this guy in a cage or a psych ward going to help the mom?  You can bet it won't rehabilitate this guy; not the way everyone giggles over the thought of violence and abuse waiting for him in prison.  Now this guy has done what he has done, I suppose we might as well just chop off his head.  But I wish we would get serious about the signs these guys usually show early on, and treat them before it gets to this.

Laura Klaas
Laura Klaas

Insane? He called his ex wife and told her he killed their girls? If knows that he is not insane. To bad, he has no clue what will happen to him on the inside. It's not going to be pretty! He will know what hell on earth is every time they let him out of solitary.

Melissa Chelberg
Melissa Chelberg

The term "insanity plea" is mis-leading. As many of you all ready pointed out, anyone who would do something like this is clearly "insane", What needs to be established however for an "insanity plea" to be valid is did he know right from wrong when he committed the crime. For example, if he killed these little girls believing they were the devil and he had to kill them or else society as a whole would burn for eternity, and he really believed this, that would be taken into consideration so he may get off on the insanity plea if something like that were the case. However, it's pretty obvious, at least from the news reports that this kind of "insanity" is not the case here. Simply being depressed or enraged is not enough to get someone off for being insane. The perpetrator literally has to have such a distorted view of reality that they honestly didn't know what they were doing was wrong. This piece of pig vomit knew exactly what he was doing and I'd bet my last dollar his bogus insanity plea isn't going to do jack. The jury will see right through it.

WHITENUP
WHITENUP

TRADITIONAL MARRIAGE IS SO HAPPY AND FULFILLING!!! !LOLOLOLOLOL

Carole Hartman
Carole Hartman

tis true...there are some very mentally ill people walking around in society, and no one knows. Never going to stop these situations from occuring, if there is no clue that there is a problem. But I agree their really needs to be a focus on a solution for how this individual is going to spend the rest of his life. Tax dollars yes its costing everyone, getting him help costs more. Making him pay, well he wont have income anymore, only social security from being mentally ill..(which is more of our money). So enlight of all that, I don't think there is a solution, certainly cant have these ppl back on the streets. And death penelty, thats not on the plate. So back to square one as always. Someone did state though, that if..just if some of these ppl were scared that they maybe killed...it just might stop them from doing an action. So yes the legal system needs to step up, make the call for death penelty in lines of mass distructive murders like this, or visious murder of any kind. And maybe some closet mentally ill ppl (that are suppose to be very smart) as studys find, will think just once before they kill. And decide to get a grip on reality.

Dee Finkelson
Dee Finkelson

poor lil kids. All their daddy needs is a bullet in the head. Y waste taxpayers money to feed him free 3x a day n all facility in mental institution?

Dred Wiberg
Dred Wiberg

Of course he's insane but, that doesnt change the fact that he murdered all three of his kids. People want to debate the death penalty and whether that's humane. I say we debate the insanity plee and ask if these people are taking advantage of the system and if it matters. Whos to judge levels of insanity anyway? I'm truly disgusted by this. Our legal system needs reworking to stop locking up thousands of first time drug users and letting murders and rapists get a slap on the wrist.

Melissa Chelberg
Melissa Chelberg

Weather he serves his time in prison or an institution, I hope he takes solace in the fact that everyone on the planet who hears about this still is going to think he is a complete piece of slime who doesn't deserve so much as getting peed on if he's thirsty. I also firmly believe he doesn't want to go to prison because someone will likely kill him or worse while he is in.

Jessi Brennan
Jessi Brennan

So.....he's not insane anymore? How convenient.

Tracy Marcotte Shaffer
Tracy Marcotte Shaffer

The guy wasn't insane, he was jealous of his wife and used the kids as revenge. He's dispicable and so is his lawyer.

Brett Andreas Campbell
Brett Andreas Campbell

Well. Lets all bend over cause our tax dollars are gonna pay to take care of this psycho for the rest if his life. Because the death penalty isn't humane. Or whatever. :I

gryphon50
gryphon50

@swmnguy where is the proof this guy was insane? Just because he says so and it's more convenient to be in a relatively cushy asylum rather than being eaten alive by inmates? Sorry, the only "insane" that gets you off the hook is hearing voices and actually having a psychotic break. Not killing your kids because you're a sociopath that wants your wife to suffer.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@gryphon50  I certainly don't want to quibble with you.  I think we basically agree.  You and I seem to be using different definitions of "Insane."  Anyway, my larger point is that I'm not interested in this guy, and I think our system is fixated on perpetrators.  I'm far more interested in preventing this sort of thing, though I don't know how myself.  And I'm interested in doing what we can as a community for the victims.  I see a near-total focus on the perpetrators, and mere lip service for victims and survivors.  And I would define being "a sociopath that wants your wife to suffer" as being insane.  "Treatable?"  I don't know about that.  But I've dealt with sociopaths before, and when you see them clearly, really see them, they're not the least bit like you and me.

If I had the solution, believe me I'd say so.

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