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Letecia Stauch's daughter takes the stand and testifies about her mother's actions

Posted at 9:40 AM, Apr 17, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — At the beginning of Monday's court session, the judge in the Letecia Stauch murder trial warned the defendant about her previous behavior in the courtroom. Viewers of the live stream from last week noticed the defendant appeared to be giving the middle finger to people in the courtroom during testimony.

District Attorney Michael Allen brought the behavior to the attention of the court this morning. Judge Gregory Werner was prepared to admonish Stauch to follow decorum in the courtroom and not interact with others. The judge stated her behavior could be considered contempt of court or witness intimidation.

She was warned further outbursts could result in removal from the courtroom during proceedings or being handcuffed to a pole to restrict the use of her hands.

Stauch is now in a different chair that does not rock or swivel, and is facing the judge's bench.

Additionally, one of the jurors in the case was replaced by an alternate this morning after they came forward to say they know one of the witnesses in the case. The judge thanked the juror for her service, reminded her not to disclose the identities of other jurors, and is free to speak with anyone about the case.

Judge Werner also ordered the raw data on a sanity evaluation for Letecia Stauch to be entered into the court data system, sealed, and available to only the prosecution and defense. The prosecution asked the court to enter the information to ensure there was a court order sealing access to the data, citing a prior incident in which information was unsealed by another party.

Letecia Stauch's daughter Harley was on the stand for most of the day. Harley provided testimony about the events that led up to Gannon's disappearance and the behavior of Letecia in the days after Gannon went missing.

When asked about their family and Gannon’s relationship with his stepmom, Letecia, Harley said: “It was different at first because, we were like a blended family. We were getting used to more people in our life. They had an okay relationship, there were problems here and there.”

Harley testified saying her father died when she was 12 years old. She said her mom, Letecia, told her that someone “came in, robbed him, and killed him.” Harley said she found out from the internet this past week, that was not true, and her father actually died from an overdose.

During testimony, Harley acknowledged her mom’s case getting a lot of attention on the internet, and it is difficult to testify right now. Harley said she hasn’t seen her mom in person since March 2, 2020, the day Letecia Stauch was arrested in Myrtle Beach.

On January 27, when Harley was at work, Letecia sent this text message after 9 p.m. “Don’t panic, but Gannon turned on a candle downstairs and set the downstairs on fire. I had to get the dogs and Laina out and run back downstairs and jump on him with a cover and put it out."

Harley testified saying the text messages weren’t clear, and they were confusing to her. She also testified saying Gannon didn’t usually sit by himself downstairs and light candles.

Harley testified saying she had to be at work around 8:30 a.m. on January 27, 2020, the day of Gannon’s disappearance. She said when she woke up in her parent’s bedroom, she didn’t know where her mom was.

Around 1:24 p.m., Letecia texted Harley saying “Omg something isn’t right.”

Harley talked about how she received text messages on January 27 from Gannon’s phone, saying Letecia left her phone at home, and if she needed anything, to contact Gannon’s phone.

"Always brought her phone everywhere… It’s just weird how this particular day she left her phone at home," said Harley.

Harley testified about when she got home, Letecia asked her to go to the dollar store and buy items to clean the carpet burn and what was leftover from the fire. Harley said her mom told Harley to take Laina with her.

Harley said she was only at the home for a brief amount of time and didn’t go downstairs and didn’t see Gannon. This was around 4:30 to 4:50 p.m. on January 27. She said she asked where Gannon was at, and Letecia told her he was with one of his friends.

A photo of the receipt from the dollar store was shown to the jurors. Harley testified saying her mom asked her to buy cleaning supplies that included elastics, extra-strength deodorizer, baking soda, baby oil, trash bags, and cotton rounds.

Harley said when Gannon didn’t come home, they began searching for Gannon. When asked about her mom’s behavior, “She was worried. I remember we got in the car and we drove to his friend’s house. Laina walked up to the door and knocked to see if he was there, they said ‘no.’"

Harley said while she was driving around searching for Gannon, Letecia stayed home to wait for Gannon to come back. “I just thought that he had run away, was at his friend’s, didn’t want to come home,” said Harley.

When asked about Gannon's disappearance, Harley said, “I had heard first that he was at a friend’s house, then he was missing, and then that he must have been with his friend’s older brother."

Harley went into detail talking about text messages and conversations with her mom on January 28, 2020.

“She (Letecia) had called me and told me to leave the house. She tried to get me to leave Laina there. And I told her I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel comfortable doing that,” said Harley.

Some of the text messages from Letecia to Harley say:

“Has any other family asked where I was… like our family”
“I have to get an attorney fast” “What’s the guy saying”
“Who is there” “I’ve been set up”

Harley said she had been advised multiple times by Letecia to not answer the door for detectives and not answer any questions. “She just kept saying, ‘Don’t say anything, you’re a minor, and you shouldn’t be answering questions.'"

Harley testified saying Letecia told her to come to a hotel on the night of January 28. “She said that she didn’t want to be in the house with Albert and Landon (Gannon’s biological mom) and his family… She didn’t want me there with them," said Harley.

Harley said eventually Letecia showed up at the hotel, and Letecia said they need to go home. The two then go back to the Stauch home in Harley’s car. “She kept being paranoid I guess you could say,” said Harley.

Harley said the next morning on January 29, Harley drove Letecia to the airport to drop off the keys to the rental car. “I remember we were driving there and she told me, 'don’t speed, I think someone is following us,'" said Harley.

She talked about picking Letecia up from the hospital later in the day on January 29. She said instead of picking her mom up at the hospital, she was told to go to the nearby Taco Bell instead. “It was weird,” said Harley.

Harley testified about the interaction between Letecia, Harley, and law enforcement outside of the Marshalls on January 30. “They took my phone and as we were walking out, they put me in handcuffs,” said Harley, who added it made her feel “bad.”

Harley said the next day their family rented a van and went to the Stauch home to gather belongings. Harley said police looked through everything.

The next day, Harley said Letecia told her that they were leaving, but she didn’t know where they were going. “She just kept saying, where do you want to live? I was just confused, ” said Harley.

When she was asking me, where do you want to live, the destination kept changing. She was just talking about starting a new life,” said Harley. “She just kept saying that Albert went against her and doesn’t believe her. That’s why she wanted to leave.”

Harley testified saying she didn’t notice anything unusual in the back of the van, and didn’t notice an unusual smell. Harley and Letecia drove the van to South Carolina.

Harley said she didn’t question her mom during the drive. “I didn’t really question her a whole lot… I would be told that I’m being disrespectful or talking back… Sometimes she would backhand me, to my face,” said Harley.

When asked about Letecia’s demeanor when they arrived to a hotel in Pensacola, Florida, Harley said, “she was acting normal.” Harley said she never went to the back of the van to get clothes and never smelled anything unusual.

Harley testified saying when she learned that Gannon’s body was found, “It was weird because we were in Florida.” Harley said she wanted to think it was a coincidence or that somebody did follow them.

“I started having questions, I believed her for a while. It wasn’t until this past November, it was recently,” said Harley. When asked about Letecia pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. “I didn’t know what it meant at first,” said Harley.

Harley also testified saying she was concerned she may be charged with a crime, “that I would be an accessory in a first degree murder.” Harley then acknowledged flying to Colorado to give local law enforcement a statement. Prosecution: “Why did you do that?” Harley: “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

Harley testified saying her mom never changed personalities and knew right from wrong before, during, and after Gannon’s disappearance. During cross-examination, Harley said she didn’t believe her mom would do anything to hurt Gannon.

Harley said, “I woke up one day, and I lost everybody.” To which the prosecution responded, “Would’ve never dreamed that your mom would’ve done something to Gannon?” Harley answered, “I’m still in shock. I just feel manipulated and lied to.”

“The thought never came across my mind, I just never thought my mom would do that. I didn’t see her as the type of person to do that. I never questioned it, it never came up," said Harley.

The prosecution asked Harley if her mother is capable of picking Gannon’s body up, putting it in a suitcase, and throwing it over a bridge in Florida. Harley said “yes.”

The prosecution asked Harley, “Do you still love your mother?” Harley didn’t answer and put her head down as she became emotional.

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.

PRIOR COVERAGE:
Jurors shown video of Letecia Stauch alleged escape attempt
Jurors see first police interview with Letecia Stauch when questioned about Gannon's disappearance
"I knew she did it," said Letecia Stauch's half brother, referring to murdering her stepson
Testimony from the medical examiner on Gannon Stauch's injuries.
Gannon's father says his ex-wife was 100% sane
READ THE ARREST AFFIDAVIT FOR LETECIA STAUCH
Gannon's father says his ex-wife was 100% sane
Prosecutors challenge insanity claim

Gannon’s disappearance

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.

'My little boy is not coming home': Parents react to news of stepmother's arrest on murder charge

Gannon Stauch's stepmother charged with first-degree murder

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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