Defense expert: Depression made Schaffhausen unable to conform - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Defense expert: Depression made Schaffhausen unable to conform to law

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Aaron Schaffhausen listens to testimony from Dr. Ralph Baker on Monday, April 8, 2013 Aaron Schaffhausen listens to testimony from Dr. Ralph Baker on Monday, April 8, 2013
HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) -

Tuesday marked the second day of testimony from psychiatric professionals as the defense attorney for Aaron Schaffhausen called Dr. J. Reid Meloy to the stand as the trial resumed in the morning hours.

Meloy is a psychiatry professor from California who consults on criminal cases through the US and Europe. He was hired by the defense to examine Aaron Schaffhausen and testify as an expert witness.

Contrary to what the court-appointed psychiatrist said Monday, Meloy testified that he believes Schaffhausen was not sane at the time he murdered his daughters.

"As a result of mental disease, in my opinion," Meloy said. "He lacked substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the standards of the law."

That is the legal language that this jury has to consider, deciding whether Schaffhausen knew right from wrong at the time of the crime.

"This is a complicated individual," Meloy testified.

Meloy explained that he had given Schaffhausen four different personality exams during his own jailhouse visit. From those, he also found that Schaffhausen has a major depressive disorder.

"He has that now, had that at the time of the killings, and had it intermittently ever since adolescence," Meloy said.

According to Meloy, Schaffhausen's depression meant: "He would cry easily, he's volatile, angry, threatened, obsessed with Jessica," his ex-wife. "He had many death images. He entered into an abysmal tunnel, which is very dark."

Meloy said he believes Schaffhausen's emotions are very constricted, which prevents him from typically feeling much and causes him to avoid emotion in other people. But, "his strength to control that emotion when there's an eruption in it, is weak."

Dr. Meloy also explained what he's diagnosed as Schaffhausen's "dependent personality." He believes Schaffhausen's distant childhood relationship with his father, Roger, was key to creating that.

"In families where the son is rejected or unwanted by the father, he will form a close relationship with the mother," Meloy said. "In fact, an intense relationship with the mother."

He explained that this often transfers to adult relationships with women, forming the same intense bond and dependence with girlfriends and wives, but also often feel anger and resentment towards those women.

"This is the paradox of the dependent person," Meloy told the jury. "You can be really indifferent to the person you're dependent on, but if they leave, it destabilizes you."

Meloy said due to that unstable state and Schaffhausen's dependence on his ex-wife, he did not believe that Schaffhausen could control himself.

"I think the daughters represented the dependent link to Jessica, and by severing that link, I think -- in his mind -- he thought he could sever the dependency on Jessica," Meloy testified.

Aaron Schaffhausen 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.

During Monday's testimony, Dr. Ralph Baker said he found no data to support a mental defect as required by law as the insanity defense. While Baker also concluded that Schaffhausen does suffer from a major depressive disorder, Baker said he knew what he was doing and could tell right from wrong when he killed his daughters.

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