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Court deadline passes without insanity defense for Aaron Schaffhausen

Experts say such a plea could still be entered later.

Article by: PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune

Updated: December 15, 2012 - 1:37 AM

Aaron Schaffhausen's defense attorney is letting a court deadline pass today without notifying the judge and prosecutor of any intention to pursue a defense of mental disease or defect.

In a voicemail to the Star Tribune on Friday afternoon, defender John Kucinski said he would not pursue such a defense "as of now."

"We still haven't gotten the discovery and we haven't gotten a lot of forensic evidence, so we don't know that they can prove their case," Kucinski said.

Schaffhaussen, 35, is accused of killing his three children in their River Falls home in July. He faces three counts of first-degree intentional homicide, as well as an arson charge.

St. Croix County Circuit Judge Howard Cameron had set a Friday deadline for an insanity defense decision, but experts said judges would be hard-pressed not to accept such a plea later.

"I don't think the deadline is all that problematic for the defense," said Marquette University Law School professor Daniel Blinka. "The judge's patience is not going to be infinite, but I think what the lawyers know in a case like this: This Friday, next week, that's still in plenty of time."

Even if Schaffhausen enters an insanity plea at some point, it could be withdrawn later and any psychological evaluations performed for it could not be used at trial.

Schaffhausen's trial is scheduled to begin in April.

Pam Louwagie • 612-673-7102

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