EL PASO COUNTY — Letecia Stauch, the El Paso County woman charged with murdering her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, will have another mental health evaluation.
She appeared in court, virtually, at a hearing on Thursday where the decision was made. Her lawyers argued she suffers from a "dis-associative disorder," and there are concerns about how this played a role in Gannon Stauch's death.
"If he (the defense) were able to successfully show that she has a mental condition that dissociates her mentally from herself after the crime, then he may be able to get some of that evidence barred from the trial," explained Stephen Longo, Attorney and Owner of The Longo Firm in Colorado Springs.
The judge said he did not have enough information about the disorder in question, and emphasized that the evaluation will not be a competency or insanity evaluation.
The judge also expressed concern about the timing of the evaluation. He said Stauch's evaluation is behind over 350 evaluations the state hospital still has to go through. Additionally, he said that the state hospital is struggling with staffing which could cause further delays. If the evaluation is not complete by January 13, the motions hearing will have to be postponed. The motions hearing was originally scheduled for January 6.
Judge Gregory Werner believes Stauch's evaluation will "be at the bottom of the list" for the state hospital.
"I wish I had a solution, but I don't" said Werner, referring to the timing concerns.
The state hospital says they have downsized their capacity by 95 beds due to staffing issues.
"We do have many vacant positions at the state hospital, a lot of those are nursing and direct staff. We can't securely manage individuals and that's why we made that decision," said Jagruti Shah with the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo.
At a previous hearing, the defense said on Thursday they plan on introducing new evidence regarding a mental health issue related to Letecia. They said that the mental health defense would only apply to Letecia's actions after the alleged murder of Gannon. The judge said it's likely this mental health defense could be related to the charge of tampering with a body or anything after the alleged murder.
Werner also informed Stauch that moving forward, she will only be allowed to appear virtually if she files a motion seven days in advance. If she fails to do so, an extraction team will try and convince her to appear in-person or forcibly bring her to the courtroom instead.
Investigators believe Letecia killed Gannon in their Lorson Ranch home on January 27, 2020, before driving his body to the Florida panhandle where it was eventually discovered in March 2020. She faces over a dozen charges, including first-degree murder.
Stauch is charged with his murder and has already been found mentally competent to stand trial twice.
Stauch has pleaded not guilty and her case has been set for trial on March 28, 2022, and the trial is expected to last for six weeks.
News 5's Natalie Chuck will have a recap of the hearing at 10:00 pm.
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