HUDSON, Wis. – After excusing a small stream of potential jurors who said they couldn’t be fair in the Aaron Schaffhausen insanity trial, a St. Croix County court swore in a jury of nine women and six men Monday afternoon.
Opening statements in the case begin at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Schaffhausen, 35, pleaded guilty last week to killing his three daughters in their River Falls home. But he maintains that he had a mental disease or defect and shouldn’t be held responsible for the deaths of 11-year old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia.
More than 100 potential jurors were brought in on Monday and 38 were questioned. While 15 were chosen, three will be excused before deliberations begin to get to 12.
Attorneys questioned potential jurors on such things as their feelings on mental illness, expert testimony, divorce, revenge and gruesome photos.
Schaffhausen sat silently, unshackled in court, wearing dress pants and a shirt and tie.
Defense attorney John Kucinski asked if anyone wouldn’t be able to follow an insanity defense, even if proven, because of “a religious belief? A belief maybe that ... because we have three young dead girls, you’re not going to care?”
The question opened a flood of responses; one woman said she believed anybody who committed such a crime could be considered not mentally stable but should be held to the same standard as others.
A man said Schaffhausen “had plenty of time to think about what he was doing on his drive to the house.”
One potential juror said she thought, “anybody who did what he did has to have mental illness.”