Closing arguments expected Monday in Schaffhausen case


Closing arguments in Aaron Schaffhausen's insanity trial are expected Monday as testimony enters its third week, KARE 11 reports.

Prosecutors may call the state's selected mental health expert, Dr. Erik Knudson, as their final witness.

Schaffhausen pleaded guilty to killing his three young daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia, last summer at their River Falls home. A jury will decide if Schaffhausen was legally sane at the time of the murders.

Testimony wrapped up last week with jurors being shown graphic photos from the crime scene. Schaffhausen’s eyes were cast down while the images were presented and did not appear to react.

Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota, tells the Pioneer Press that successful insanity defenses are rare because of the difficult burden of proof for the defense, conflicting diagnoses and jurors' reluctance to let defendants off for heinous acts.

If jurors agree with the defense, Schaffhausen will be indefinitely committed to a psychiatric facility. If the jury rejects his insanity plea, Schaffhausen would receive three life sentences in prison.

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