NewsCovering Colorado


Legal expert explains elements of insanity defense

Letecia Stauch trial
Posted at 9:19 PM, May 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-05 23:19:34-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado — The defense team in the Letecia Stauch murder trial asked the jury to find their client not guilty by reason of insanity. Jury deliberations began Friday afternoon.

News 5 asked attorney Stephen Longo for insight about the legal hurdles an insanity defense creates for both the prosecution and defense.

Longo explained that jurors must consider two elements when it comes to an insanity defense. The first is known as mens rea, a Latin phrase meaning the guilty mind or criminal mind.

Attorneys from both sides want to persuade the jury that the defendant either did or did not know what they were doing was wrong.

“This person cannot put together that what they’re doing is something bad, and because they can’t, we don’t want the punitive aspect of criminal law to punish them or bring charges," Longo explained.

He said the second element is to show that a defendant simply doesn't know what they are doing.

"They’re not in a mental state where they are effectively present in their own mind that they know the physical acts that they’re doing in committing the crime,” Longo said.

He believes the jury will likely consider Letecia's erratic behavior from the time that Gannon was killed right up through the trial.

He pointed to her attempted escape when deputies were driving her back to Colorado, her previous requests to represent herself at trial, and the judge's reprimand for flipping her middle fingers at witness on the stand as examples of behavior that would stand out to jurors.

“The tough part for the prosecution is you may not know are these jurors going to be looking at it and going well that kind of feeds into some of these issues regarding the insanity plea, or does it work in their favor on the opposite end," Longo said.

He explained some juror may interpret Letecia's behavior as an attempt to manipulate proceedings in the courtroom.

Jurors were excused for the day Friday evening. Deliberations will continue next week.

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