COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Jurors in the Letecia Stauch murder trial on Wednesday watched a video of police interviewing Letecia and her then-husband Al Stauch as detectives worked to locate Gannon Stauch.
Letecia is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson in 2020 and dumping the body in a suitcase along the side of a road in Florida. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
The first witness called to the stand Wednesday was Jessica Bethel, lead detective on the case from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
“The suspect providing alternate leads, multiple stories of what happened, ultimately influenced how we proceeded with the case," Bethel testified.
Bethel said she contacted Letecia early on in the investigation regarding Gannon’s disappearance. The detective asked to talk at the Stauch’s home so investigators could look for clues. Letecia did not agree with that request, Bethel testified. Letecia allegedly said there were young children in the home, and she didn’t want them to overhear what they were talking about. Instead, Letecia offered to meet at a Starbucks in Fountain, according to Bethel.
Bethel testified that Letecia was hesitant to talk to detectives at first and “was apprehensive at best.”
The court watched a police interview with Letecia and her then-husband. Letecia told investigators that on Sunday, January 26, 2020 — one day before Gannon disappeared — they went hiking at Garden of the Gods. Gannon said his stomach hurt, so he stayed home from school on Monday. Letecia took off work to stay with him.
Letecia said she and Gannon went and got food on Monday, and then went to Petco. She told police Gannon stayed in the car because he wasn’t feeling well.
At one point, Letecia and Al both said Gannon texted Al, “do we have bath salts?” Letecia said Gannon asked for bath salts the day before, so she gave him a bath bomb.
During the interview, Al said it’s common for Gannon to go play with friends and take his Nintendo Switch, but he was never gone long. At one point Al said, “I’m pretty convinced that something bad…”
When asked what Letecia’s demeanor was like during the interview, Bethel said, “She was calm and collected.” She also added that Letecia’s personality was consistent throughout.
Bethel testified that she spoke to Letecia several times on January 28, 2020 through text messages, phone calls and FaceTime. She said Letecia declined to show up for an interview because her stomach was hurting.
Prosecutors played audio from a FaceTime call between Bethel and Letecia at around 10 p.m. on January 28, 2020.
Bethel continued asking about information or updates regarding Gannon. Letecia said, “Why are you asking me this? You keep asking me this over and over and over… I’m not going to talk to you without an attorney when I already talked to you earlier”.
“She was angry with me," Bethel described. "I’m not sure exactly why she was angry with me, but she was angry with me.”
Bethel said many of the text messages from Letecia were focused on her, and not on helping find Gannon.
Bethel conducted another interview with Letecia at the El Paso County Sheriff's Office around noon on January 29, 2020. The interview was more than four hours long, and the recording was played for the court in its entirety.
Before the interview begins, Letecia is seen in the room by herself sitting on the couch with her arms and legs crossed, humming at times.
When investigators arrived, Letecia acknowledged that the conversation was being recorded and asked if it’ll stay private and within the sheriff’s office “because I’m going to have to tell you some very personal things.” She also said she hadn’t eaten, so she was given refreshments.
Letecia described January 26, 2020 as a normal Sunday, discussing the Garden of the Gods hike, Gannon's stomach ache, as well as dinner. Once the two arrived home, she told investigators that the fire alarm went off and that she saw smoke coming from downstairs.
Letecia said she ran downstairs and put out a small fire that was burning on the floor. She told investigators Gannon was sleeping on the couch right next to the fire.
Letecia said they were able to get everyone out of the house, and when they got back, they talked about a plan to fix the carpet the next day. She said Gannon stayed home from school the next day because of his stomach problems and to help fix the carpet.
Letecia said on January 27, she noticed marks and burns on Gannon’s arm that began peeling and bleeding. She said she freaked out because she didn’t want Al to know. She became emotional, saying, “I made a mistake. I swear to y’all, I didn’t know they were that bad."
She recounted the January 27 trip to Petco, again saying that Gannon stayed in the car. Letecia told investigators that she kept an eye on him by walking toward the front of the store to look out the window toward the car.
She and Gannon returned home around 2 p.m., according to Letecia. She said when she walked inside the home, she heard something downstairs.
“I didn’t think anything about it… And the guy was in there. I gave him the code, and it was all my fault… I gave him the code to fix our carpet," Letecia told investigators.
She said she heard something in the storage closet.
“He was standing in there, and he had on gloves. And he had one of the guns," Letecia said in the interview. "I was terrified, and then he just knocked me down."
Letecia said she began to cry and freak out before blacking out for a little bit.
Letecia said once she came to, she couldn’t find Gannon, but the guy was still in the home. She said she went back upstairs.
“The reason I sent Laina (Letecia's stepdaughter) away is because I wanted her to be safe too," Letecia told investigators. "I sent her on a mission to get the mail. So I just started making up things for Laina to do”.
Letecia admitted to detectives, “I did lie when they came. I did say Gannon left. He never did, he never left to go play."
She told detectives she lied about what happened because she didn’t want to face the consequences since she gave the house code to the carpet guy.
Letecia said she was pacing the house, questioning what to do following Gannon's apparent abduction. She admitted that she should’ve called 911, but said she kept thinking it was all her fault.
“In my mind, I thought I could fix this," she said in the interview.
Detectives then questioned Letecia about renting a car from the airport. She said she rented the car because she did not want to go over the mileage for her leased car while driving around searching for Gannon.
She told investigators that she parked her car in the airport's short-term parking lot, and admitted that she told Al that her car was parked at a local elementary school.
Letecia was asked to describe Gannon's burns that he allegedly suffered. She said Gannon was initially asleep, but then woke up and was hanging off the side of the sofa as the fire burned. She told investigators Gannon was alert and apologized for the fire.
During her interview, Letecia was asked how she met the man who allegedly came over to fix the burned carpet. She told investigators she went over to where the new buildings were in her community and met a guy named “Eduardo or Edgardo."
Letecia said she asked the man if he had carpet for her home, and he said yes. She then gave him the code to the garage and told him where the burned carped was located.
Letecia said in her interview that she left $50 on the counter and told “the carpet guy” to take that as compensation.
Letecia was then asked to go into further detail about what happened when she got home. She said, “I’m one of those people that tries to not think mental health is always an issue… I’m not going to let that be a stigma that I’m going to have mental health problems."
She began crying and held her head in her hands. She then said a few times, “I don’t want to dream anymore.” Letecia told investigators she was trying to block it out and didn't want to be specific.
Letecia was asked by investigators again to describe what happened when she found the man in their home. She said the doors to the gun cabinet in her room were open, and she didn’t think much of it.
She told investigators that the man raped her, saying it was difficult to describe in detail what happened because of the nature of the situation.
In her interview, Letecia said the first thing she remembered after the assault was Gannon.
“I just remember being like, where’s Gannon? And I was freaking out because I didn’t know where he was at," she said.
Letecia said she also found a gun on the floor afterward.
She told investigators that she hasn’t showered or eaten, and then said, “I would do anything for you to figure out who Eduardo is.”
She described the clothes she was wearing during the attack and said she had washed it after the attack. She said she did not want to go to the hospital for an exam without showering and cleaning up first.
"That’s disgusting. I’m not doing that," she said in the interview.
Letecia said she did not want to be escorted to the hospital, and instead would drive herself when she was ready for the exam. She insisted on getting a break and going home to eat and freshen up.
When Letecia stepped out of the room and into the hallway, an investigator took Letecia's phone out of her hand. Letecia became frustrated and asked to see a warrant. The investigator said they were applying for a warrant at that time.
The detectives then told Letecia she had evidence on her body after the assault and that they cannot allow her to leave just yet. They told Letecia that she was being held while they obtained a search warrant.
The video was then paused, and court was dismissed for the day. Jurors will watch the rest of the interview when court resumes Friday morning.