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Ex-wife testifies most of the day in Schaffhausen trial

HUDSON --Jessica Schaffhausen took the stand for most of the morning Thursday and continued in the afternoon in the trial of her ex-husband, Aaron Schaffhausen, convicted of killing their three daughters.

Jessica Schaffhausen, 33, answered questions by public defender John Kucinski in the insanity phase of the trial that began this week.

She was stoic as the testimony droned on and broke down only when recalling the events when her three children were murdered in their River Falls home July 10.

She recalled the phone message she received when Aaron called and said he had "killed the kids."

I told him, "It wasn't funny and he shouldn't say things like that," she said.

Tears came to her eyes during that portion of testimony and Kucinski asked if she wanted to take a break. "I just want to get this over with," she responded.

"I was trying to live with the reality that I no longer had children," she said in an effort to explain why she couldn't recall verbatim her report to River Falls Police.

Jessica held her composure through most of the morning's proceedings and returned in the afternoon for questions from prosecutors.

Aaron Schaffhausen, 35, Minot, N.D., entered guilty pleas to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted arson last week in the first phase of the trail in his not guilty by reason of insanity (NGI) proceedings.

He was charged following the July 10 incident in the River Falls home where Jessica lived and their three daughters, Amara 11, Sophie, 8, and Cecilia, 5, who were found in their beds with their throats cut.

In the second phase of the trial this week, the defense has the burden of proving he suffered from mental disease or defect when he committed the crimes and was not responsible for his actions.

A jury of 15 is hearing the case, including three alternates. The jury was ushered out of the courtroom late in the morning while the prosecution and defense debated issues.

Assistant Attorney General Gary Freyberg said, "I am concerned about the defense procedure. It is against the judge's pre-trial rulings. The defense has broken the ruling about (inadmissible) hearsay evidence," he said.

The prosecution had objected to a number of questions by Kucinski and been overruled on most of them.

Kucinski said, "It all goes to the state of (Schaffhausen's) mind, his mental status. The whole case goes to rage, jealousy, revenge."

At one point Judge Howard Cameron bristled at being lectured to by Freyberg and indicated he would continue to rule as he had.