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Schaffhausen sentencing is today; Heat index could reach 100; New Richmond soldiers headed for Afghanistan; More state briefs

Aaron Schaffhausen will find out this afternoon if he’ll ever get a chance at freedom after he killed his three daughters and tried to burn down their home in River Falls last July.

Prosecutors recommend three life terms for the murders with no chance for a supervised release plus an additional 12 1/2 years for the attempted arson.

Schaffhausen, 35, failed to convince a jury that he was insane when he stabbed and slashed 11-year-old Amara, eight-year-old Sophie and five-year-old Cecilia Schaffhausen at the home of his ex-wife.

The couple divorced six months earlier, and Aaron admitted killing their daughters.

In asking for the full life sentences, prosecutors said Schaffhausen has “a character so deeply flawed as to be without any legitimate prospect for change.”

Defense attorney John Kucinski said prosecutors failed to recognize the role of the defendant’s mental illness.

“The state still does not realize that everyone’s brain is not the same,” said Kucinski,

The jury determined that Schaffhausen did have a mental illness, but he still knew that the murders were wrong.


Heat index could reach 100

It will finally start to feel like summer in Wisconsin this week as the humidity rises and the heat index could reach 100 degrees.

The hottest temperatures are predicted from tomorrow through Thursday in the southern two-thirds of the state. Some forecasters expect severe weather on Thursday as a cold front drops south through the Upper Midwest.

Most parts of Wisconsin are expected to stay dry through Wednesday. There are small chances of thunderstorms in central and southern areas this afternoon.

Today’s highs are projected to be in the mid- to upper-80’s statewide, cooler near Lake Superior. Ninety degree weather is expected in most of the state for tomorrow and Wednesday with a slight cool-down Thursday.


New Richmond soldiers headed for Afghanistan

Soldiers from Wisconsin are part of a Minnesota National Guard unit that will soon begin a dangerous assignment in Afghanistan.

Ninety-five members of the 849th Mobility Augmentation Company left the Twin Cities suburb of Litchfield Sunday for a one-year tour of duty. They represent 28 communities, including New Richmond in St. County.

Their job will be to clear roads of improvised explosive devices.

Captain Matt Jukkala says the troops are prepared. He says the No. 1 goal is to bring everybody home in the exact condition in which they left. Almost four of every five soldiers are making their first overseas deployments.

The unit is training at Fort Bliss in Texas before heading to Afghanistan. They’re due back next summer.


Gas prices spike by 20 cents

Wisconsin gas prices have jumped by almost 20 cents a gallon in the past week. Experts blame a recent jump in crude oil prices, and a drop in U.S. gas stockpiles.

The Wisconsin AAA says the average statewide price of regular unleaded is $3.651 per gallon this morning, up from $3.458 a week ago.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices retreated a bit this morning. Benchmark crude for August delivery dropped to about $105 a barrel. That’s still represents a 10% increase for the month.

Analysts say it’s due to unexpected drops in U.S. gas inventories, which signaled a higher than expected demand. The removal of Egypt’s president in a coup this month is also blamed for the crude oil hike. On the other hand, fuel demand is said to be down in China after a second straight quarter of slower economic growth.

What this all means for U.S. customers is uncertain. Patrick DeHaan of says we could see a “roller coaster” of fuel prices for the rest of the summer. Merrill Lynch analyst Francisco Blanch expects the increases to subside in about a month.


Hundreds rally to protest Zimmerman acquittal

Several hundred people rallied in Madison and Milwaukee last evening to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida.

A couple hundred people attended a State Capitol rally where one speaker called this “open season on blacks” and others urged people to stand up against racism.

In Milwaukee, about 125 people marched from the Martin Luther King statue down King Drive to the city’s downtown. They chanted. “No Justice, no peace.” The group Occupy Milwaukee organized the march. Police reported no problems.

On Saturday night in Milwaukee, about 40 protestors against the Zimmerman verdict rallied for a half hour before breaking up. Another group of 75 gathered around midnight Saturday, and Milwaukee police arrested one person there for obstructing an officer.

Other protests occurred around the country Sunday as President Obama called for calm. The Justice Department said it was looking into possible civil rights violations against Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer.

His attorney said prosecutors never had a chance in proving a murder charge, and they should not have brought the case to court regardless of the defendant’s racial status.


Parts of burned Milwaukee Courthouse reopen

The Milwaukee County Courthouse is partially reopening today, nine days after an electrical fire heavily damaged the structure.

Most of the first three floors are still closed, but the fourth through seventh floors are now open, as well as the adjoining Safety Building. Two of the three main courthouse entrances are still closed. Visitors can use a skywalk at the Criminal Justice facility.

Criminal trials will resume today for the first time in a week and a half, and there’s one high-profile case on the docket. It’s a scheduled one-day trial for John Spooner, 76, who’s accused of killing a 13-year-old African-American boy over missing guns last year in a case that critics called racially-motivated.

Family and small claims courts are also reopening. Most other Milwaukee County government services continue to be provided from other facilities.


Six children injured in Madison accident

Eight people were injured – including six children – when a vehicle overturned on Interstate 39-90 on the east edge of Madison around 6:20 p.m. Sunday.

The State Patrol said a car veered out of control while going north.

The six kids, ranging in age from 3 to 11, were taken to a hospital. One of them was airlifted.

The driver was a 29-year-old woman. She and an adult passenger were not seriously hurt. WKOW TV in Madison said the driver will be ticketed for every child who was not wearing a seat-belt and for driving with a suspended license.


Diocese will release another priest’s file

The Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese says it will release personnel files of at least one more priest as an investigation wraps up into sex abuse claims filed in the church’s bankruptcy case.

The church released files on 42 pedophile priests two weeks ago as part of a settlement involving sex abuse victims who’ve sued the archdiocese for fraud.

Now, church spokesman Jerry Topczewski says the two sides are deciding what to release from another priest’s file, and a second priest who’s under investigation could eventually have his file released.

A couple of other cases involve single victims and will not be released to reduce the chance that the victims will be identified.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese has 45 priests with verified abuse allegations. One of them – the late Donald Musinski – was not added until after the church filed for bankruptcy in 2011. Musinski served for almost 40 years at parishes in Milwaukee, Belgium and Johnsburg. He died in 2006.