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St. Croix judge will decide Thursday whether to move Schaffhausen trial

HUDSON - A judge in St. Croix County will decide Thursday whether to move the possible trial of a man accused of killing his three young daughters at his ex-wife's home in River Falls.

Unless there's a plea deal, a three-week trial is planned in April for 35-year-old Aaron Schaffhausen, who's charged with three counts of homicide plus attempted arson. Circuit Judge Howard Cameron is expected to act on a defense request for a change of venue - which could mean either moving a trial or bringing in a jury from outside the region.

Prosecutors are fighting the change of venue, saying an impartial jury should be able to be selected in ST. Croix County.

The Eau Claire Leader-Telegram says the cost of Schaffhausen's trial could go above $200,000. Prosecutors have submitted a list of 105 possible witnesses, and defense lawyer John Kucinski says he'll put four or five more on the stand. If a trial's held in Hudson, officials say the jury would need to be sequestered.

Some TV stations have agreed to help pay the costs of wiring a courthouse community room for overflow spectators and reporters. The clerk of courts office expects to spend up to $100,000 if a trial is held in Hudson.

Sheriff John Shilts said security for a three-week trial could exceed another $100,000.