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

Schaffhausen and his daughters -- Sophie, Cecilia, and Amara.
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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