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Schaffhausen trial: parents testify; doctor calls him depressed, not insane


The parents of the man who has admitted killing his three daughters last summer in River Falls, Wis., testified about his often-troubled childhood Monday. The trial of Aaron Schaffhausen also featured a former psychiatrist's determination that while the defendant suffers from a major depression disorder, he was not insane at the time of the killings.

Roger Schaffhausen and Suzanne Allen testified Monday in the insanity trial of their 35-year-old son, which is now in its second week. Roger Schaffhausen said Aaron had been a colicky baby, had run out of school in third grade, been bullied in fourth grade and later became a rebellious and belligerent teen, KARE 11 reported.

Roger Schaffhausen testified that his son was involved with a skinhead group in high school, stole a gun and brought it to school, and was expelled, KARE reported.

Allen said her son didn't interact well with others and didn't have many friends, KSTP and the Associated Press reported. Allen said that in his 20s, Aaron Schaffhausen was energetic and fun-loving, but had an "undercurrent of sadness."

Both parents said their son had showed signs of being a loving father, KSTP and the AP reported. But Roger Schaffhausen said he began worrying about his son's well-being in November 2011, when he cut off contact with family.

Roger Schaffhausen didn't see his son again until January 2012 when Aaron Schaffhausen's divorce from his wife, Jessica, was finalized. "He wanted to do terrible things to Jessica’s boyfriend and wanted to hurt the girls to show Jessica how much pain he was in," Roger Schaffhausen said.

Later in the day, a former psychiatrist and medical director at a Wisconsin mental institution testified about his interview with Aaron Schaffhausen. KARE 11 reports Dr. Ralph Baker met with the defendant for nearly four hours on behalf of the prosecution and concluded that while Schaffhausen has a major depression disorder, he was not insane at the time of the killings.

Also Monday, a former co-worker of Schaffhausen's made his first court appearance stemming from his arrest at the courthouse on Friday, when he testified in the trial. The Hudson Star Observer reports Joseph Rollag faces charges including threatening a witness and carrying a concealed weapon.

Rollag allegedly called a psychiatric nurse from his pickup truck outside the courthouse and alerted her that he was having homicidal thoughts. Once inside the courthouse, a pat search found he was carrying two knives.

Schaffhausen has pleaded guilty to killing his three daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia, in July in the River Falls, Wis., home where the girls lived with their mother, his ex-wife. His lawyers are trying to prove to a jury that he was insane at the time of the killings.

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The father accused of killing his daughters was battling serious depression and had been for some time, and was taking medications, which may have played a role in the killings, Aaron Schaffhausen's public defender John Kucinski said, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reports.