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Large jury pool set for Schaffhausen trial

The largest group of potential jurors will be in the pool for the Aaron Schaffhausen trial.

Schaffhausen, accused of killing his three young daughters in their River Falls home last July, is scheduled to stand trial for three weeks beginning April 1.

St. Croix County Clerk of Court Lori Meyer was in the process of firming up the group of potential jurors early this week. Some 200 questionnaires have been sent out to county residents and most were returned last week, the largest number ever for a St. Croix County trial, she said.

"About 40 have indicated in advance they have conflicts," said Meyer. About a dozen hadn't returned the questionnaire by Monday morning and she was attempting to get in touch with them.

The jury pool will ultimately be whittled down to 15, including 12 regulars and three alternates.

Finding a venue where 150 or more persons could be corralled while jury selection is underway poses a problem.

"The fire marshal has ruled the limit for seating people in the County Board Room is 100. The largest courtroom (No. 3) is limited to 76," Meyer said.

High school gyms have been ruled out because school is in session. Church basements are an option only as a last resort, she said. Facilities on the UW-River Falls campus are in Pierce County and create a logistical problem.

Meyer said either way bus transportation will be used to bring members of the pool to and from the government center where their cars will be parked during the two-day selection process.

In the meantime, proceedings in the case continue through a mountain of motions.

Judge Howard Cameron has already banned cameras from the jury selection process. He is expected to rule on cameras in the courtroom during the trial Friday, March 1, the next scheduled motion hearing.