Murdered Gannon Staunch’s stepmother suffered from ‘psychotic crack’
A Colorado woman stood trial Monday on charges of murdering her 11-year-old stepson in January 2020 and then driving his body to Florida to dump it over a bridge.
Letecia Stauch has pleaded not guilty to insanity, and her attorney told the Colorado Springs jury that she had a “psychotic rift” that led her to kill the little boy. Her legal team points to a traumatic childhood with years of sexual and mental abuse.
Prosecutors allege she was unhappy in her marriage and was outraged that she was being treated like an unpaid babysitter. Her husband was absent at the time of the murder of his son Gannon while on National Guard duty.
Stauch was arrested in March 2020 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and extradited to Colorado.
Stauch will be seen in court in Colorado in March 2020
Gannon Stauch’s stepmother, Letecia, is on trial for his January 2020 murder
Stauch is depicted with her husband Eugene – Gannon’s father. He was on deployment with the National Guard at the time of Gannon’s assassination
The process is expected to take several weeks.
Michael Allen, the district attorney, argued in his opening statement that the steps Stauch took to cover up her actions are evidence that she knew what she was doing was wrong — and therefore sane.
She cleaned up blood in Gannon’s bedroom, moving his body to various locations to hide it before disposing of it “like trash” in a river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico, hoping it would never be found, she said he.
Stauch also lied to investigators several times to try and hinder their investigation, Allen said, changing her stories about what happened to the little boy.
She claimed that two different men raped her and then kidnapped Gannon and later that one of those men took Gannon after he injured himself in a bicycle accident.
“All of her actions were purposefully designed by her to distance herself from what she was doing,” Allen said.
But attorney Will Cook said the gruesome details Allen brought forward, including how Gannon was killed and the lack of motive, are proof that Stauch was “insane” because it all makes no sense.
“These are all signs and evidence of a spirit, a soul, that has been broken in a very fundamental and profound way,” he said.
Cook suggested that Stauch developed dissociative identification disorder as a result of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from her absent mother’s series of partners throughout her childhood, sometimes sleeping in a car in the driveway to escape the abuse.
Cook said that when Stauch killed Gannon, she was mentally killing the “demons” of her childhood and life.
Based on surveys of potential jurors, many were skeptical of Stauch’s mental health defense, Cook said.
He urged the jurors to put aside their impulse to make someone pay for such a brutal murder and to keep an open mind, as the judicial system requires Stauch to be presumed innocent.
“I’m not saying you have to like it. I’m just telling you it is,’ he said.
Letecia Stauch can be seen in her March 2020 booking photo in Colorado
Gannon (pictured) disappeared in Colorado Springs in January 2020. His body was found on March 20, 2020 – 1,200 miles away in Florida
The suspected killer (pictured after her arrest in South Carolina in March 2020) was extradited to Colorado
Stauch is accused of blunting, stabbing and shooting Gannon before dumping his body in a suitcase
Initially, authorities said they were responding after Stauch said Gannon had not returned from playing with a friend.
But she didn’t name any friends he might have been with or their parents.
Within days, she made up several stories to trick them, including that a man she hired to mend a carpet raped her and then kidnapped Gannon, investigators said.
More than 200 volunteers searched for the boy in the Colorado Springs area where the family lived.
About two weeks after Gannon disappeared, searchers found a piece of chipboard with Gannon’s blood on it in a nearby rural area.
A Colorado detective, Kevin Clark, subsequently told the court that phone records and Internet search information showed that Stauch was looking online for cheap car rentals the morning she reported her stepson missing.
She then picked up a rental car, which was used to transport the body.
Investigators found Gannon’s blood on Stauch’s shoe, found her DNA on a gun linked to his death and learned she traveled to the Florida Panhandle shortly after he disappeared, prosecutors have said.
Gannon’s remains were found in March 2020 in the small town of Pace, on the Florida Panhandle.
Stauch was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.
Stauch was also accused of trying to escape from prison after her arrest.
According to court documents, she asked a fellow inmate to help her get out, explaining that she planned to use a broom handle to break the window in her cell, and that she had already measured herself to make sure she would fit through.
Stauch was found fit to stand trial on January 27, 2021.
She had wanted to represent herself before she received new counsel.
TIMELINE OF THE GANNON STAUCH CASE:
January 27, 2020: Gannon Stauch is reported as a runaway; last seen by stepmother Letecia Stauch between 3:15 PM and 4:00 PM
January 30: Case has been upgraded to a missing and endangered child due to his age, need for medication, winter weather and length of time he has been missing
January 31st: Letecia Stauch gives interview to KKTV and says deputies had threatened to shoot her and handcuff her 17-year-old daughter
February 4: Neighbor Roderrick Drayton shares surveillance video showing what appears to be Letecia returning home at 2:19 p.m. without Gannon in her pickup truck; claims the boy’s father burst into tears when he saw the video
February 5: District Attorney Dan May visits Stauch’s home; The Stauch family make a YouTube statement to bring Gannon home
February 7: Searchers use a remote-controlled submarine vehicle with sonar to search a pond near the Stauch family’s home
February 8th: Candlelight prayer vigil is held at Lorson Ranch
February 11: Letecia Stauch issues statement to Fox 31 claiming Gannon was in her truck on Jan. 27 and later left with a “friend”
February 21st: Ground investigation on Gannon is halted due to continuation of the investigation
February 28: Planned search for Gannon is called off without explanation
March 2nd: Letecia Stauch is arrested in connection with the case. Stauch was charged with murder of a child under the age of 12 by a person in a position of trust, child molestation resulting in death and tampering with a corpse. The authorities announce that they do not believe Gannon is alive, but they have not found his body. The investigation is ongoing
March 5th: Letecia is being extradited from South Carolina to El Paso County, Colorado
18th of March: Remains of a boy found in Pace, Florida
20th of March: Autopsy performed on the child’s remains tentatively identifies the deceased as Gannon Stauch
April 3rd: Leaked affidavit claims Letecia killed Gannon in his bedroom on January 27 and disposed of his body the next day. It contains photos of Gannon’s room, mattress and walls covered in blood spatter. It also says Letecia “lied to investigators on multiple occasions”
5th of May: Court records show Letecia has been charged with attempted escape after she planned to escape El Paso County Jail in Colorado Springs
21 Jan. 2021: Stauch is declared mentally competent to stand trial
April 3, 2023: Letecia Stauch is on trial for murder in Colorado Springs