EL PASO COUNTY, CO — The murder trial of Letecia Stauch, the El Paso County woman accused of murdering her stepson in 2020 continued Friday with sanity evaluations from mental health professionals that have interviewed Stauch over the course of this case.
The trial was delayed in resuming Friday, as Judge Gregory Werner said Letecia was feeling sick. “If it feels like you’re going to throw up or something like that, you need to let your attorneys know,” said Judge Werner to Letecia and the Defense team.
Witness testimony resumed Friday with Dr. Loandra Torres, a forensic psychologist. She conducted a competency evaluation and sanity evaluation on Letecia Stauch.
“At this part of the evaluation, what we’re trying to do is get out the defendant’s story, their perception of everything that happened to them, what they were thinking or feeling, and what actions they took. This is important of evaluations of insanity,” began Dr. Torres.
The courtroom played a part of the forensic interview between Stauch and Torres which was more than an hour long.
A forensic psychologist interviewing Stauch asked her, “Talk to us about what happened on the day of the event. There may be things leading up to it.” To which Stauch replied, “Where do you want me to start at?” The forensic psychologist replied, “Where do you think it begins?”
In the interview, Letecia Stauch described an accidental shooting when she shot someone who was wearing a cape, who she later learned was Gannon. Letecia said, “I would never purposely hurt Gannon… I never knew once that it was Gannon.”
She said the noise woke Laina, Gannon’s younger sister. Stauch mentioned a report where Laina, “she said on there, Gannon’s body was not moving… she helped me carry Gannon’s body to the car.”
Stauch said, “I didn’t even know it was Gannon at that time until I moved the cover.” She said Gannon was barely talking but was still alive. Stauch said she was in complete and utter shock and began throwing up.
Stauch said when she “woke back up,” she heard a howling noise. She said she went to the garage and heard a noise. “That must have been when Gannon took his last breath,” she said.
Stauch said Laina was asking what was going on. Stauch also said Laina and Harley had an expression like they had just seen a ghost. Stauch said she couldn’t believe what just happened. “I never would have purposely hurt Gannon,” Stauch said.
“To know that he was speaking to me and Laina as we were trying to take him up the stairwell…. I started going into different personalities of what’s going on… We have to find him,” said Stauch.
Stauch said her mind was in protective mode because she thought someone was in the house and trying to hurt them. She said her personality named 'Maria' thought it was her step dad. “I gain absolutely nothing out of hurting a child,” said Stauch.
“They painted me as this monster,” said Letecia Stauch during her insanity evaluation. Stauch said she believed she was not okay and was going crazy. She said she had never been through hallucinations, but she believes she was in a psychosis and was going to wake up eventually.
Stauch at one point believed she could bring Gannon back from the dead. “I told my mom I completely lost it… They told me, ‘You had lost it, you can’t bring somebody back from the dead... You are crazy, and you need to go to a hospital" said Stauch to the psychologist.
Dr. Leondra Torres resumed the witness stand. Prosecutors asked about Letecia Stauch reviewing Gannon’s autopsy. “I believe she said she had obsessed over it,” said Dr. Torres during her testimony.
Dr. Torres testified saying, “There were concerns about Mrs. Stauch’s credibility.”
During the forensic interview, Stauch said Gannon wasn’t killed on the afternoon of January 27. Instead, she said Gannon was killed after midnight that night, which was the 28th.
Dr. Torres talked about Stauch’s comments of seeing someone in the home who was wearing a cape, and her personality 'Maria' shooting them.
"It seems as though that’s what she’s trying to imply because she talks about going into protection mode. Oftentimes she references 'Maria' as the protector," said Dr. Torres who testified about Stauch claiming she switched personalities when the crime was committed.
Dr. Torres said if Stauch had dissociative identity disorder, she believes Stauch would have had a lack of understanding, awareness, and memory of that point in time, and would have expected her to report more loss of memory and not the small details.
Dr. Torres also said she reviewed the interview with Laina, Gannon’s younger sister. Dr. Torres said Laina did not mention being present or helping carry a body upstairs. At one point during the forensic interview, Stauch said about Laina, “it was very traumatic for her too."
During the forensic interview, Stauch also alluded to how she wanted to take Gannon’s body from one place to another, so someone could bring him back to life.
Dr. Torres testified saying when Stauch reviewed Gannon’s autopsy, Stauch said they were not stab wounds on Gannon’s body, and instead, they were burns.
During a forensic interview from June 29, 2022, Stauch said, “When I’m in Maria mode, I have power, unbelievable power, special powers you could say.” Stauch said Maria moved Gannon’s body to the car to try to go to the hospital.
In the interview, Stauch also said Maria can speak Spanish and Russian. When asked how Maria knows these languages, Stauch said she doesn’t know.
The prosecution said Stauch’s passport is in evidence right now, and there’s no indication that Stauch was in Canada. In previous testimony, Stauch indicated to witnesses that she had psychiatric in-patient treatment in Canada.
Dr. Torres said typically people with dissociative identity disorder experience problems with their functioning and do need some sort of psychiatric treatment. Dr. Torres said it’s not something that can be controlled and people tend to be ashamed to talk about their experience.
Dr. Torres said many people with dissociative identity disorder also tend to withhold information or don’t want people to know they have an illness.
“One of the most striking components to me is she doesn’t seem to be disturbed by having all of these personalities… that’s meaningful to me,” said Dr. Torres, who said she wasn’t convinced that Stauch had dissociative identity disorder.
Dr. Torres said Stauch’s symptoms of her claiming she had dissociative identity disorder, “seemed to increase over the course of the two years, from the time of the offense, to the first time we saw her, and to the time she was seen by Dr. Lewis in November 2022.”
Dr. Torres said during their sanity evaluation, they diagnosed Stauch with a personality with traits of borderline and narcissistic personalities.
Dr. Torres added, there wasn’t sufficient information to say with confidence that Stauch had dissociative identity disorder at the time of the alleged offense.
Dr. Torres testified saying after Stauch shot the person in the cape, she dissociates, and it’s her personalities that help cover up what it is that happened. “There is no particular mental illness that is impacting Mrs. Stauch’s ability to know what is right or what is wrong.”
The prosecution asked Dr. Torres, "What is your final opinion in regards to Stauch’s sanity?" Torres responded, “It was that Mrs. Stauch was sane at the time of the crime.”
During cross-examination, Josh Tolini who is one of Letecia Stauch’s lawyers, asked Dr. Torres about implicit bias at the state hospital. Dr. Torres said “I don’t think there is an implicit bias in the way that you’re describing it here.”
Letecia Stauch’s attorneys today said they’re calling their two witnesses to testify on Monday. Therefore jurors could reach a verdict in the trial sometime next week.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is learned. Tune in to News5 tonight to watch the latest updates of the trial at 4, 5, and 6 p.m.
Follow updates from the courtroom with News5's Ashley Portillo on Twitter. As is normal in Colorado courts, media coverage of the events will be limited. No cameras are allowed in the courtroom to cover the actual trial process. However, anyone can watch using the virtual courtroom option from the El Paso County court system.
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READ THE ARREST AFFIDAVIT FOR LETECIA STAUCH
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Prosecutors challenge insanity claim
At the time of his disappearance, law enforcement began a search for Gannon based on information provided by the stepmother who claimed he had gone to a friend’s house and had not returned.
Following several weeks of law enforcement and community-led searches for the missing boy, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office arrested Letecia Stauch in early March on charges of murder, child abuse, and crime of violence before his body was recovered.
Throughout all efforts to locate Gannon, investigators were already focused on Letecia Stauch based on her statements to law enforcement and evidence found at the family home and within her car.
During an initial interview with detectives, Letecia Stauch claimed a Hispanic male had raped her and kidnapped Gannon. According to court documents, she refused to undergo a medical examination to find evidence of a sexual assault and refused to provide any further description of an attacker. She later provided many different versions of events, which investigators detailed in the arrest affidavit.
Investigators believe Gannon was shot, stabbed, and beaten in his basement bedroom by the stepmother on January 27, 2020. A forensic search of the family home found blood stains were found on the boy’s mattress, carpet, baseboards, and electrical socket by his bed.
Police say Gannon’s body was loaded into Stauch’s Volkswagen Tiguan to hide his body before she parked the car at the Colorado Springs Airport where she rented another vehicle and picked up his father after he traveled for military service.
One of the areas searched by law enforcement was a stretch of Highway 105 in Douglas County where investigators recovered a piece of bloody wood. The arrest affidavit states investigators believe Gannon’s body was originally dumped at this location using her Volkswagen, but she later returned to the area in another vehicle.
Gannon’s remains were eventually found on March 17, 2020, inside a suitcase dumped under a bridge near Pace, Florida. Investigators believe the stepmother dumped the body during a trip to South Carolina.
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