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TRO dropped against sheriff in Schaffhausen case

A temporary restraining order filed against St. Croix County Sheriff John Shilts by public defender John Kucinski in the Aaron Schaffhausen murder case was lifted Tuesday afternoon following an arraignment hearing.

Schaffhausen stood mute, and the court entered pleas of not guilty to three counts of homicide and one count of attempted arson.

The restraining order was filed because the sheriff had a mental health worker make regular visits to Schaffhausen's cell while he is being held in lieu of $2 million cash bond on three counts of first-degree homicide in the deaths of his three young children July 10 in River Falls.

"It is the sheriff's duty to provide health care to the defendant," said Corporation Counsel Don Gillen, who represented Shilts.

Kucinski contended his client was isolated in segregation on suicide watch and "doesn't have to talk to anybody."

Judge Howard Cameron said the Wisconsin constitution is quite clear on the subject of the sheriff's duties to provide for the health and care of inmates.

"I don't tell the sheriff how to run his jail, and he doesn't tell me how to run my court," said the judge as he vacated the restraining order.

In effect, a mental health professional will visit Schaffhausen's cell on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday while he remains isolated on suicide watch and ask questions. Schauffhausen doesn't have to respond.

After the hearing Kucinski told reporters, "Just because he (Schaffhausen) is in jail doesn't mean he doesn't have his 5th Amendment rights."

The public defender indicated the question might be addressed to the court of appeals.

Schaffhausen faces life in prison on the three homicide counts and 20 years on the arson charge. His three daughters, Amara, 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia, 5, were discovered in their beds with their throats cut the afternoon of July 10 after a visit from their father, the criminal complaint said.