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Testimony to Continue in Schaffhausen Trial Friday

Posted at: 04/11/2013 8:44 AM
Updated at: 04/12/2013 8:08 AM
By: Cassie Hart

WARNING: Article contains graphic content

Testimony continued Thursday in a trial for a man who admitted to killing his three daughters in River Falls, Wis.

Thirty-five-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in his daughters' killings.

However, he maintains he's not responsible for killing 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie, and 5-year-old Cecilia because of a mental illness.

The St. Croix County District Court trial is to determine his sanity. Thursday wrapped up day nine of the trial.

The prosecution presented its case, arguing that Schaffhausen was sane at the time of the killings.

Jessica Volkmann, a compliance officer at Affinity Plus Credit Union, testified Thursday that Schaffhausen withdrew $1,000 on July 9, 2012 - a day before the killings.

During cross-examination by the defense, Volkmann said Schaffhausen's account balance after the withdrawal was more than $2,500. He could have withdrawn all the money, she said.

According to Wednesday's testimony, Schaffhausen ordered a couple Bloody Marys and a beer at a pub hours before he drove to River Falls, where he reportedly killed his daughters in his ex-wife's home.

During the morning of July 10, 2012, Schaffhausen ordered the drinks at The Liffey in downtown St. Paul, said a waitress who testified. A couple hours later, he moved to the pub's terrace, where he wanted to read a book outside in the sun.

Schaffhausen said he was going to visit his daughters, according to another server who testified. Maybe he'd take them to a soccer game, Schaffhausen told her.

The waitress said she joked with Schaffhausen that his kids must keep him busy. Schaffhausen said they weren't old enough to be trouble, yet.

By the afternoon, Schaffhausen had driven to River Falls where the killings happened.

Ailene Splittgerber with the River Falls Police Department took the initial 911 phone call. According to Sergeant Mike Reardon, he saw her type, “ex-husband killed the children.” He read that and immediately left.

River Falls Police Officer Christopher Kober arrived at the River Falls home around 3:32 p.m. that afternoon.

He said he arrived on the scene and waited for backup, then he and three other officers went into the house through the garage in a straight-line formation. They were identified as Reardon, Officer Denton Anderson, and Officer Beth Posel.

Kober said they cleared the main level of the house first. He and Anderson then went down into the basement where they noticed a “very strong odor of gas,” he said. Reardon said he radioed for the fire department to come because of the smell.

They then went to the top floor, and Kober said all the doors were closed except the master bedroom, which had no one inside.

According to Kober’s testimony, one of the officers indicated that there was a large pool of blood on the floor inside the first bedroom.

Anderson went into the room first, followed by Kober.

“I saw the pool of blood and saw someone inside the bed,” Kober said, adding that the body was that of a deceased girl.

They went into the next bedroom and also found a deceased girl. Anderson cleared the last room, and when Anderson said, “10-79,” which means deceased, Kober said, “we sprinted out of there” because they didn’t want to be inside if the house blew up.

Schaffhausen declined to testify Wednesday in his defense. When asked directly by the judge if it was his decision, Schaffhausen replied it was.

The defense has rested its case. The trial is expected to last at least into next week, according to the prosecution.

Read a timeline of Schaffhausen's activities from July 9-10, 2012, here.