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Four experts will examine Schaffhausen

In a brief hearing this morning, St. Croix County Judge Howard Cameron ruled that the prosecution may have two mental health experts examine the man accused of killing his three daughters in River Falls last summer.

In mid-January, Aaron Schaffhausen, 35, who has been held in the county jail since last July, pleaded not guilty by reason of mental defect or illness to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

Schaffhausen has already been examined by a mental health expert hired by his attorney and will be examined by another appointed by the court, probably next week.

Wednesday morning's hearing was called at the request of prosecutor Gary Freyberg, who asked that Schaffhausen be compelled to cooperate with the mental health exams, that two state-appointed experts be allowed to interview the accused, that a defense attorney not be present during the interviews and that Schaffhausen be reminded of the consequences of not cooperating with examiners.

"I don't see any reason to have this hearing at all," said public defender John Kucinski, who objected mainly to subjecting his client to two examinations by the prosecution's experts.

"We're not going to allow two," said Kucinski, noting that the defense had only one expert examine Schaffhausen and the court has appointed only one expert to examine him.

The law sets no limit on the number of experts the state may have interview the accused, said Judge Cameron, ruling for the prosecution.

Schaffhausen is charged with three counts of homicide and one count of arson in the deaths of his daughters, Amara, 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia, 5, on July 10 in their River Falls home at 2790 Morningside Ave.

Another pretrial motion hearing is set for Friday, March 1. The judge directed both sides to prepare a list of motions they want dealt with at that hearing.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.