Aaron Schaffhausen murder trial: Monday, April 8 testimony recap - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

SCHAFFHAUSEN TRIAL: Monday testimony recap

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Aaron Schaffhausen's family -- including his father, mother, aunt -- took the stand on Monday, along with the psychiatrist who evaluated him in jail after he was arrested in the murders of his three young daughters. The North Dakota man admitted to killing his children inside their River Falls, Wis., home last summer, but he argues that he is not responsible due to mental defect.

Monday marked the start of the second week of the trial to determine whether Schaffhausen was sane at the time of the slayings.


Roger Schaffhausen testified how Aaron, as an infant, was touchy -- sensitive to touch, colicky and not as cuddly as their first son.

As a teen, Roger Schaffhausen described his son as "rebellious, belligerent and difficult at home. He had some run-ins with the law."

Yet, as a adult, he seemed to get much better, according to Roger Schaffhausen, who explained that his son liked his work and took pride in it. His marriage to Jessica Schaffhausen seemed to be going well and he seemed to enjoy being a father.

However, after the couple divorced, Roger Schaffhausen said he began to receive troubling phone calls from his son.

"There was one phone call received around two o'clock in the morning. He was very despondent, depressed. Sounded like he was always weeping. That he wanted to do terrible things to Jess's boyfriend. He wanted to hurt the girls to show how much pain he was in," Roger Schaffhausen testified. 

Roger Schaffhausen told jurors he tried talking his son through it, telling him he'd get over it and it'd get better.

"I called them demons in his head, these terrible thoughts he was having," he said. "He couldn't sleep, and so it'd go around and just get worse and worse in his head."


Aaron Schaffhausen's mother testified about the history of depression on her side of the family, including herself, her own mother and her sister. She said there was "an undercurrent of sadness" with her son as a child.


Aaron Schaffhausen's aunt also testified about family's mental illness, including her own depression and anxiety -- conditions which are also prevalent in her son and daughter.

Fix said Aaron was "unplanned by his mother and unwanted by his dad," adding that Roger Schaffhausen showed no affection toward him.

Like Roger Schaffhausen, Fix also received a troubling phone call from Aaron.

"I told Sue, 'You need to have Aaron committed,' because he was going to go to Wisconsin and slit the girls throats," she said. "I was terrified."


Dr. Baker examined Aaron Schaffhausen in jail, and while he testified that Aaron Schaffhausen does suffer from a major depressive disorder, he also said that he knew what he was doing and could tell right from wrong when he killed his daughters. Baker told jurors he found no data to support a mental defect as required by law as the insanity defense.

"He looked depressed, he acted depressed and he has a history of depression," Baker said. "Before telling me the story of what happened, he said it was a very spur of the moment thing."

Aaron Schaffhausen toldBaker that he and the girls talked about going to a park by the river. While the girls were finding their shoes, he was alone with Cecilia in her room.

"The next thing he knew, he had her neck in his hands and he was strangling her," Dr. Baker testified. "He thought she was dead."

Schaffhausen went downstairs as the older two girls came in from outside, then heard Cecilia crying. He then went to the kitchen, grabbed a knife and slit the throats of all three.

He said he put them to bed after the murders and told them goodnight, not goodbye, which Dr. Baker said indicated to him a longing to "return to the way things were in the past -- a warm, loving thing when you put them to bed."

While Aaron Schaffhausen said the murders were not planned, Baker said he would not explain what triggered the killings.

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