COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KDVR) — Opening statements were heard Monday in the trial of a woman accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson at their Colorado home and disposing of his body in Florida.
Letecia Stauch, now 39, has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the killing of her stepson, Gannon. She faces multiple counts, including first-degree murder, child abuse and tampering with evidence.
Stauch appeared in court on Monday wearing a white shirt with floral designs. Her hair covered her face.
Gannon Stauch’s mother overcome with emotion
The prosecution opened by presenting a picture of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch. The photo and the first words of the prosecution’s case immediately sent Gannon’s biological mother, Landen, running out of the courtroom, overcome with emotion.
Both the prosecution and defense brought the details of Gannon’s death: how he was stabbed 18 times and Letecia fired three shots, all in his bedroom. The defense is not denying Letecia killed Gannon, stuffed him in a suitcase and drove 1,300 miles to dump his body off of a Florida bridge.
The two sides’ arguments differ regarding Letecia’s sanity during the time of the murder.
“All of her actions were purposely done by her to distance herself from what she did. To throw off investigators, buy her time, escape accountability for what she did to Gannon on January 27th,” 4th Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen said.
Allen told the jury that Stauch’s sanity will be revealed in the evidence and testimony presented over the next six to eight weeks.
“You’ll hear her own voice through recorded phone calls and interviews,” Allen said. “The evidence itself will prove her sanity.”
Allen named several witnesses that will speak to Stauch’s mental state at the time of the murder, including Gannon’s father, Al, and Stauch’s biological daughter, Harley.
Defense attorneys claim insanity, childhood trauma
On the other hand, Stauch’s defense attorneys say she was insane at the time of the murder. They say she has a fragmented personality rooted in trauma stemming from physical and sexual abuse as a toddler.
“First it was just physical: beatings, whoopings, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and then it became sexual,” defense attorney Will Cook said.
“She was molested regularly from 5 or 6 on to when she was a teenager,” Cook added.
Cook told the jury that Stauch’s mother was “absent” for a lot of her childhood and left her in the care of boyfriends who sexually and physically abused her.
“There was some psychological crack to go from teacher, loving mother and stepmother to being a killer of an 11-year-old,” Cook said. “She didn’t wake up that day and say, ‘I’m going to kill my stepson, Gannon Stauch, today.’ No, she was killing the demons in her life, in the dark depths of her childhood.”
The only emotion FOX31 noticed from Stauch came when she raised a tissue to her face while Cook brought up this alleged sexual abuse.
The prosecution will start presenting evidence at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.
Gannon was reported missing in January 2020, and his disappearance sparked a nationwide search. On March 2, 2020, Letecia Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and then on March 18, 2020, Gannon’s body was found in Florida.
In the three years since Gannon’s death, Letecia Stauch has changed her plea in the case. Originally, she pleaded not guilty, but then changed her plea to not guilty by reason of insanity in February 2022.
Her trial began with jury selection on March 20. The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.