The sentencing hearing for the father who admitted to killing his three daughters in a River Falls, Wis., home last July is finished, putting an end to a trial that shook the small town.
Schaffhausen, 35, was formally sentenced to serve three mandatory consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole at about 3:30 p.m. for the July 10, 2012 murders of his daughters, 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia.
Schaffhausen has been remanded into custody of the St. Croix County Sheriff's Office and will be transported to prison in Dodge, Wis.
The judge explained his decision prior to issuing the sentencing, saying he did not believe Schaffhausen could be rehabilitated at the present time and could achieve any potential rehabilitation in prison. He also said that the duty to protect the victim and the public outweighed the need to consider whether or not he could be reformed.
The earliest possible release date under one life term is 20 years; however, the judge said each child's life was too precious to allow the terms to be served concurrently. That means Schaffhausen ill spend a minimum of 60 years behind bars on the murder charges alone.
Schaffhausen was sentenced to an additional 12 years on the arson charge with an additional seven years of supervised release.
Schaffhausen's defense attorney, John Kucinski, confirmed that an appeal is planned.
During his trial in April, prosecutors said he cut the girls' throats to hurt his ex-wife. The jury in the case rejected the defense's argument that said Schaffhausen had a mental defect, saying while he was suffering from mental illness, it did not prevent him from knowing what he did was wrong. Prosecutors say he showed a complete lack of remorse.
EMOTIONAL FAMILIES SPEAK OUT
As family members read their statements before sentencing, tears fell as some harsh words explained the heartbreak caused by the killings.
"Aaron should rot in hell, of this world and eternity, with his hatred, evilness and cowardly ways," said Mary Elizabeth Stotz. "Let the darkness of his actions haunt him forever."
The victims' aunt summed up the feeling of a family devastated by the loss of three girls, murdered by the hands of their father.
"I want Aaron to know they stopped loving him the moment that he harmed them in front of each other and then killed them," Stotz continued.
The words spoken by the girls' cousin brought tears to many in the courtroom.
"He took away three very special people, and they could have changed the world," Eryn Schlotte said. "No one can take the memories and smiles away from me, not even him. What he took away is the future of seeing them smile."
While all who gathered grieve for the girls and many expressed hatred toward Aaron Schaffhausen, his family members made it clear they do not accept the jury's verdict that he was sane when he killed his daughters.
"I will promise he is not a coward. Wherever you send him, he deserves to go for life. I will say that. Send him for life, but stop saying he's a coward," Patty Fix pled. "He is not a coward. He does have a mental illness. I know he has a mental illness."
Aaron Schaffhausen's mother also took the opportunity to speak directly to her son.
"You are a good man who did a horrible thing for whatever reasons," Sue Allen said. "The sad irony is that Amara, Sophie and Cecilia did love you, still love you. They themselves would have agreed that you were not yourself on that terrible day."
As for the girls' mother, she had a friend speak on her behalf at the sentencing.
"Today, we can go home with relief and take the next step forward in knowing justice was served the best it could be in an awful situation," Carrie Leveille said. "Jessica is and will continue to be safe, as with all her family."