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Stauch defense team asks to delay preliminary hearings due to COVID-19

Says pandemic has prevented defense from preparing
Stauch defense team tries to delay preliminary hearings due to COVID-19
Posted at 5:35 AM, May 19, 2020

According to court documents, the defense team for Letecia Stauch filed a motion on Monday to try and delay her upcoming hearings due to COVID-19. Right now, Stauch's preliminary hearing and proof-evident presumption great hearing are scheduled for June 5 and 8.

Another motion filed on Monday requests video visitations with Stauch be granted, or that she is released on bond.

Stauch's defense team said in the first motion that she is "unable to meet with her defense counsel due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions at the Colorado Springs Criminal Justice Center" and that the "pandemic has prevented the defense from adequately preparing for this hearing."

The defense claimed the jail allowed them to meet with Stauch through online videos for one to two hours at a time, approximately three to four days a week. Stauch's team said this was permitted from March 11 to May 4.

Then, on May 4, for reasons that were not made clear to the defense, the Criminal Justice Center suddenly stopped allowing video visitation for professional visits to inmates. The remainder of this sentence has been redacted.

The defense also said the jail staff told them the only way to speak with Stauch was to physically go to the jail and meet with her in an attorney room with glass in between counsel and Stauch. They said they have not been permitted to conduct a video visit with Stauch since April 30.

Stauch got to speak with her counsel over the phone on May 12, when she agreed to request this continuance based on the information contained in the motion.

The defense stated that all suggestions besides physically entering the jail to visit Stauch, risking the spread of the virus, have been denied. Stauch's team claimed this "prohibition on visitation" requires court intervention.

They said it's essential to review all of the discovery received by the defense with Stauch before the hearings. Her team said even if they did go into the jail to review it with her, Stauch would not be able to hear any audio files or watch any video because of limitations in the attorney booths at the jail.

The defense also claimed the jail cannot guarantee that no inmate has the virus, because they have not tested all or even the majority of the inmates there. Counsel reported that a Lieutenant at the jail refused to tell them how many inmates have been tested for COVID-19, how many inmates or deputies were showing symptoms, or how many were in quarantine. The defense said asking them to make the choice between putting their personal health at risk or fulfilling their duties to Stauch is "dangerous and unreasonable."

The defense goes on to state the prosecution has endorsed around 320 witnesses. However, travel restrictions have prevented the defense from properly investigating the case, which has allegations throughout the country, including in Colorado, South Carolina, and Florida. Plus, they said they cannot conduct in person interviews. The defense said they are unable to meet their obligations to Stauch because of the pandemic.

Next, the defense stated the autopsy report and DNA results on a number of key pieces of evidence in this case have not been given to them. Once they get those documents, the defense will need time to review them.

The motion then discussed how the pandemic would affect the court setting. It said Stauch would have to sit six feet away from her counsel, making it impossible to ask them questions. The defense said wearing masks would make cross-examination complicated as well. Plus, because of social distancing mandates, no members of Stauch's family, the victim's family, or the press would be allowed to observe the hearings in person.

In a separate motion , the defense team asked for video access to their client, Stauch. It referenced May 4 again, the day when a member of the defense tried to schedule a video visit with Stauch, and the jail refused it because all inmates with her security designation were prohibited from the online visitation system. That's when the defense was told they must visit Stauch in person.

Stauch's defense team did not physically enter the jail because of concerns about COVID-19.

In the final paragraph of the motion, the Stauch defense team asked the court to grant an order allowing video visitation with Stauch, or grant her a bond so that she can have both video and phone access with her defense team from "the safety of her home."

This is an ongoing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.