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Jury rejects insanity plea of Wis. father

HUDSON, Wis. — Jurors in Wisconsin say a father had a mental defect but is still responsible for killing his three young daughters last July.

Aaron Schaffhausen pleaded guilty last month to three counts of first-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of 11-year-old Amara, 8-year-old Sophie and 5-year-old Cecilia. But he argued he was not responsible because of a mental illness.

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Jurors deliberated for about 3½ hours before reaching their verdict.

During closing arguments Tuesday, prosecutor Gary Freyberg said Schaffhausen was in control of his actions and was a mean, callous person — but not legally insane.

Defense attorney John Kucinski argued Schaffhausen has a rare mental disorder, rooted in a deep dependency on his ex-wife.

The jury found he had the capacity to know what he did was wrong.

‘‘Please do not be fooled into thinking that just because a father murders his children that he must be insane,’’ Freyberg told jurors. He said Schaffhausen knew what he was doing, and the fact that he tried to conceal evidence shows he was in control.

‘‘This isn’t just sad,’’ Freyberg said. ‘‘This is unbelievably selfish, cowardly, callous, and mean. . . . But it’s not legal insanity.’’

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