Prosecution Continues to Call Witnesses in Schaffhausen Trial

Updated: 04/11/2013 7:48 AM KSTP.com By: Cassie Hart

Aaron Schaffhausen ordered a couple bloody Marys and a beer at a pub hours before he drove to River Falls, Wis., where he reportedly killed his three 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 Wednesday in Schaffhausen's trial. 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.

Schaffhausen, 35, 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.

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

The defense has rested its case. The prosecution is now presenting its witnesses. The trial is expected to last several more days, according to the prosecution.

A New Boyfriend

Judith Flanders, of Illinois, testified that Aaron Schaffhausen began calling her when her youngest son started dating Jessica Schaffhausen, while she was going through a divorce. During the first call, Aaron Schaffhausen said he met her son, Josh Flanders, at the bar and lost his phone number.

Judith Flanders gave him her son's phone number. During later calls, Aaron Schaffhausen told her, "If you don't want to see your son's life shortened, he needs to stop (expletive) my wife."

Josh Flanders, of Springfield, Ill., testified that he dated Jessica Schaffhausen from 2011 to early 2012 while she was getting divorced. Aaron Schaffhausen began sending Flanders messages on Facebook in October 2011.

Flanders, who took screen shots of the messages, read them aloud during his testimony. The first said, "Hello Josh, this is the husband of the woman you're (expletive)."

The second stated, "Still no comment on what a (expletive) person you're being? I'll give you and your mom more time to work things out ... for now."

In February 2012, Flanders said Aaron Schaffhausen made threats against him during a phone call. "They were very general and vague," Flanders testified. He said "Bad things are going to happen to you, and you should watch your back."

Flanders eventually reported the calls to the police, he said.

Aaron Schaffhausen was living in Minot, ND., following his separation with his wife.

Patrol officer Shane Johnson, of the Minot Police Department, testified that he performed a welfare check March 7, 2012 on Aaron Schaffhausen after receiving a call from the River Falls police in Wisconsin reporting there were threats against Jessica Schaffhausen.

Johnson checked if Aaron Schaffhausen was still in North Dakota, he said. Aaron Schaffhausen was "very intoxicated" with bloodshot eyes, and told the officer that another man in the apartment was him. Aaron Schaffhausen then left the apartment.

Johnson caught up with Aaron Schaffhausen. He said he was having a rough time with his ex-wife, but he was staying in the Minot area. He never confirmed or denied making threats, Johnson said.

Calls to Family

Allyson Hart, who's married to Aaron Schaffhausen's cousin, said Schaffhausen would call her to talk about his divorce. Hart had become friends with Schaffhausen's ex-wife.

"He was very surprised, he said he felt like it came out of the blue," Hart said, referring to the divorce. "He made it very clear that it was Jess' fault."

Schaffhausen told Hart that he stopped speaking to the girls because "it reminded him of everything that he lost," Hart said. Also, Schaffhausen said he knew it would bother his ex-wife.

Schaffhausen said he was upset that his ex-wife was dating other people, Hart said. Schaffhausen thought his ex-wife began seeing other people before they split up.

He "mentioned being angry a lot," Hart testified. But Hart said she never saw Schaffhausen being abusive, or harming his daughters.

A Neighbor

The Schaffhausen’s neighbor, Lisbeth Danielson, was the first witness to be called by the prosecution Wednesday morning.

Danielson recalled interactions she had with Aaron Schaffhausen. Before their divorce, she knew Aaron Schaffhausen for about two years. She never saw him physically abusing the family. The Schaffhausens seemed like a fun couple, she said.

He later told the neighbor that he was taking medications. "I'm not well," Danielson recalled Aaron Schaffhausen telling her.

Danielson testified that Aaron Schaffhausen was "neglectful" towards his daughters. She remembered the girls in their backyard alone, and the youngest across the street wearing only a diaper.

When asked if he called her directly after the separation Danielson said yes. She recalled having five to 10 conversations around August 2011.

"He wanted to know if Jessica [Schaffhausen] was dating anybody, he wanted to know where she was at," said Danielson.

When asked if he ever talked about the kids, she said only in one phone call.

She testified Aaron Schaffhausen asked her if she would go over to the house and help Amara with a science project. She said it seemed like a strange request. She said he also wanted to know if she would go check on Jessica Schaffhausen. Danielson said no and that "he got angry".

She testified many of the phone calls ended with Aaron Schaffhausen getting angry.

Danielson recalled an incident where she tried to contact Aaron Schaffhausen because the girls were missing him.

She said he didn't respond right away. “I texted him that the girls were missing him, if he could just contact them."

"He wrote that he would be fine without them, that Jessica [Schaffhausen] would move to Springfield and find a new husband and they would have a new dad."

Danielson testified she told him to "quit feeling sorry for himself and that it had nothing to do with him and Jessica [Schaffhausen.]" She said he told her to "piss off" and mind her own business.

She said Aaron Schaffhausen then apologized about the text and asked if Jessica Schaffhausen had a boyfriend. She said he was able to carry on a normal conversation.

At Work

Aaron Schaffhausen's former boss, Michael Tappe, testified that Schaffhausen worked at Tappe's construction company for more than 10 years. He described Schaffhausen as a good worker and very organized.

In 2012, Schaffhausen told Tappe that he was having issues with his ex-wife. She was "shielding" him from talking to her and seeing their kids, Schaffhausen told Tappe.

Tappe said that Schaffhausen's performance began declining. He had inaccurate timecard reporting and attendance, Tappe said. After Tappe talked with Schaffhausen about his performance, his work improved.

"He was more upbeat," Tappe testified. He was "the old Aaron."

On July 6, 2012, Tappe said he talked with Schaffhausen about future projects. Schaffhausen never indicated that he wasn't going to be working the next week. Tappe said he couldn't reach Schaffhausen the following Friday and Monday, so he thought Schaffhausen had quit.

Others who testified Wednesday included the man who rented a car to Schaffhausen when he traveled to Minnesota before the killings, and a hotel worker in St. Paul, where he stayed.

An investigator from the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office testified about an interview he had with Schaffhausen's friend Joe Rollag, who testified earlier. Rollag told him that Schaffhausen had threatened to kill his ex-wife's boyfriend, the investigator said.

Over the past week and a half several witnesses have testified on behalf of the defense.

On Tuesday Dr. J. Reid Meloy, the defense medical expert, testified Aaron Schaffhausen was insane at the time of the killings.

Meloy has a much different analysis of Aaron Schaffhausen's mental state than the court-appointed medical expert, Dr. Ralph Baker, who testified Monday.

Baker said he believes Aaron Schaffhausen is depressed and possibly obsessive compulsive but that he is not insane. 

Read the criminal complaint here. Warning: Graphic content

Listen to the initial 911 call here. Warning: Graphic content

Watch coverage of the trial in the video box above.