Witness arrested after courthouse threat

April 8, 2013 at 3:56 PM
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HUDSON, Wis., April 8 (UPI) -- A witness in a Hudson, Wis., murder trial was arrested on suspicion of threatening a witness, a county sheriff's office says.

Joe Rollag, 31, was arrested Friday on pending charges of a felony count of battery or threat to a witness and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct and carrying a knife. The arrest came after a "potential threat" was announced by the St. Croix Sheriff's Office.

Rollag testified Friday in the trial of co-worker Aaron Schaffhausen, 35, who pleaded guilty to homicide and arson counts in the deaths of his three daughters, ages 11, 8 and 5, who lived with Schaffhausen's ex-wife, in July 2012. Schaffhausen claims he is not responsible for their deaths because of mental illness. Rollag's testimony came in the sanity phase of the trial, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram reported Monday.

Rollag told the court he did not remember Schaffhausen making threats against his children or ex-wife, despite telling investigators of such threats. Rollag said he was not on his medication at the time and may have had "clouded judgment" as a result, he said.

Court-appointed psychologist Ralph Baker testified Monday that Schaffhausen was not suffering from a mental condition that would prevent him from obeying laws. Baker said that while Schaffhausen was experiencing psychological problems at the time he killed his children, he was not insane, the newspaper reported.

Schaffhausen's parents, Roger Schaffhausen and Sue Allen, testified Monday that their son showed signs of depression since his childhood.

Roger Schaffhausen told of a phone call in which Aaron was "very despondent, depressed, almost weeping."

"He wanted to hurt the girls to show [his ex-wife] Jess how much pain he was in. He said he wanted to get his life back to how it was," the father said.

"I called them demons in his head; the terrible thoughts in his head."

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