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Schaffhausen not insane, says psychiatrist

Aaron Schaffhausen knew what he was doing wrong and was in control when he killed his three daughters in River Falls July 10, 2012, a psychiatrist hired by the prosecution testified Monday.

"He did what he threatened to do," said Dr. Erik Knudson. "He followed through with what he had planned to do in advance."

Knudson, who is associate medical director of Mendota Mental Health Institute, said he has been hired to do 82 insanity-defense evaluations and evaluated 21 of those defendants as being not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Last week a clinical psychologist hired by the defense gave the opinion that Schaffhausen was not competent at the time of the murders while a court-appointed psychiatrist said he was.

Schaffhausen, 35, has pleaded guilty to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted arson in the slayings of Amara, age 11; Sophie, 8; and Cecilia, 5. Jurors must decide if the man was legally competent at the time of the murders.

Closing arguments in the trial are set for Tuesday morning. Then 12 jurors will begin their deliberations.

Knudson diagnosed Schaffhausen as having major depressive disorder, anti-social personality disorder and alcohol dependency.

But, he said, "Depression did not cause Mr. Schaffhausen to do what he did."

Knudson said in his opinion Schaffhausen started planning the visit to his ex-wife's home in River Falls at least five days ahead, and even though he reported being in a dreamlike state during the murders, he knew what he was doing. Attempting to clean up after the murders, also shows he knew what he had done was wrong, said the psychiatrist.

For more, please read this week's print editions of the River Falls Journal and the Hudson Star-Observer.