HUDSON, Wis. - The defense team for confessed murderer Aaron Schaffhausen is slowly building a case in his civil insanity trial.
On Tuesday morning Schaffhausen's attorneys called on Dr. J. Reid Meloy to testify on the defendant's state of mind on the day he killed his three daughters.
Meloy has testified in 30 to 40 insanity cases and works for the FBI as a consultant. He told jurors that Schaffhausen had a mental disease at time of killing and was suffering from major depression. As a result, Meloy says, Schaffhausen lacked substantial capacity to conform his conduct to the standards of law.
"He currently meets criteria for depressive disorder, he has it now, he had it before, has had it since adolescence," Meloy testified. "I observed his depression when I interviewed him. He had recurrent depression literally for years."
Dr. Meloy says he reviewed all evidence in case, pouring over police and investigation reports. He also met with Aaron twice for a total of ten and a half hours, administering a number of psychological tests. Meloy also went to the Schaffhausen home with defense attorney John Kucinski to get a sense of the physical evidence and murder scene.
Jurors were told that Schaffhausen would cry easily, he was volatile, he was angry, and he was obsessed with his ex-wife Jessica. Meloy maintains that Schaffhausen had many death images which is a major symptom of depression. He also referenced the defendant's alcoholism, saying it leads to an exaggerated depression state.
Dr. Meloy characterizes Aaron Schaffhausen as "a complicated individual" dependent, depressive, obsessive, impulsive, narcissistic, and border line chronically depressed.
He says Jessica Schaffhausen was his wife, but in many ways acted as his mother. Jurors were told that Schaffhausen was passive at home and that the vulnerability of being the dependent personality can leave the person unstable.
The jury was told that Schaffhausen doesn't see people as a whole, which contributed to how he felt about his girls.
Aaron Schaffhausen told Dr. Meloy about the afternoon he murdered his daughters, and Meloy gave his interpretation of the events. He says as Schaffhausen moved through the house he saw lives he was no longer a part of, and it conjured up grief and sadness. When daughter Cecilia asked for help finding her shoes, Meloy says that triggered his feelings of dependency.
Meloy says he sliced the girls throats, and went downstairs with the intent of starting the home on fire, something the doctor says is a part of Schaffhausen's death fantasy. When he returned to the room and saw the horror of his murdered daughters, Dr. Meloy says he attempted to put clean clothes on them, tucked them in their own beds and kissed them goodnight.
"You see the gross and dangerous contradiction in his mind," Meloy told jurors.
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