EL PASO COUNTY — Judge Gregory Werner decided Thursday the evidence prosecutors presented in a preliminary hearing is sufficient to send Letecia Stauch to trial.
She's accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, in their Lorson Ranch home on January 27, 2020. She faces over a dozen charges, including first-degree murder.
Letecia Stauch must physically appear for the entry of plea on November 4 at 1:30 p.m. She will be held without bond until trial.
The 4th Judicial District Attorney and lead prosecutor on the case, Michael Allen, says he anticipates Stauch will enter a not guilty plea at her arraignment in November. They have six months from the arraignment for a trial.
The District Attorney says a homicide trial in El Paso County typically lasts around two weeks. He estimates Stauch’s trial will take longer than that.
GOING TO TRIAL: The judge decides this matter WILL proceed to trial.— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) September 23, 2021
Now, we need to set the matter for entry of a plea. Thinking first or second week of November. @KOAA
At Stauch's preliminary hearing on September 9, Judge Gregory Werner said he needed more time to review the evidence before making a decision about the trial. "I have pages of notes... the law requires I make certain findings based on the evidence presented... I'm sure you all want me to get it right. I do too," explained Judge Werner.
A preliminary hearing is when prosecutors must convince the judge there is enough evidence to take the case to trial.
At the hearing, the prosecution called a handful of witnesses related to law enforcement to the stand. One of the witnesses was an FBI agent.
During the testimony, the results of Gannon's autopsy were disclosed. According to the report, Gannon's cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound and blunt-force trauma to the head. Contributory conditions were sharp-force injuries, and his manner of death was marked as a homicide.
Gannon's body was discovered inside of a suitcase under a bridge in the Florida panhandle in March 2020. A member of the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office said the body was severely decomposed and wrapped in blankets, which were soiled along with the clothing. The body was in a fetal position.
Dr. Susan Ignacio, a forensic pathologist, performed the autopsy. She noted one gunshot wound, one skull fracture, and eighteen sharp-force wounds, including those on the arms and hands which are thought to be defensive wounds.
Florida law enforcement officers said the gunshot wound was in Gannon's lower left jaw area. The projectile recovered from his head was sent to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. Two projectiles were also found in a pillow that was in the suitcase.
Prosecutors say on February 1, 2020, Stauch drove from Colorado to Florida, and then went to South Carolina. Stauch's daughter, Harley Hunt, was allegedly with her on this trip. Data collected from cell phones and car telematics show Stauch stopping in Pensacola just after midnight on February 4.
Around 4:15 a.m. on February 4, Stauch's location pinged close to the bridge where Gannon was discovered. To be specific, it was around 3.3 miles from where Gannon was found.
At the preliminary hearing, evidence found inside of the Stauch home was explained. Underneath Gannon's bed, a large blood stain was located. "The stain saturated the carpet, and the pad, and went directly to the concrete," said Sgt. Rosario Hubble of the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
A 9 mm gun was recovered from Al and Letecia Stauch's bedroom. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was sent three projectiles from the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Hubble believes the 9 mm gun was used to fire the rounds collected in Florida. Particularly, the one recovered in Gannon's head was consistent with the firearm.
Stauch waived her right to be present during her preliminary hearing. She also waived her right to her preliminary hearing entirely for her escape case.
Earlier this year, Stauch waived her right to counsel and chose to represent herself. That decision pushed back her originally scheduled preliminary hearing dates, which were set for mid-March.
Stauch was adamant about representing herself, saying she did not believe experts in the legal system held much value in this case. In her Arguello Advisement, she said she has "23 hours a day to work." She also compared the case to poker and said she has an "ace in the hole," insinuating she is innocent.
At her Arguello Advisement, Stauch said she is "confident" in two pieces of evidence "that no science can discredit, and it will clear my name."
Stauch reversed her decision and has been assigned defense counsel. Her attorneys are Josh Tolini and Will Cook.
Here's a full list of charges filed against Stauch:
- Count 1 - Murder in the first degree (first-degree felony)
- Count 2 - Murder in the first degree (first-degree felony)
- Count 3 - Child abuse resulting in death (second-degree felony)
- Count 4 - Tampering with a deceased human body (third-degree felony)
- Count 5 - Tampering with physical evidence (sixth-degree felony)
- Count 6 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of firearm
- Count 7 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of a blunt instrument
- Count 8 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of a knife or other sharp instrument
- Count 9 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - unlawfully causing the death of Gannon Stauch
- Count 10 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of a firearm related to murder in the first degree - child under 12 years of age
- Count 11 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of a blunt instrument related to murder in the first degree - child under 12 years of age
- Count 12 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - use of a knife or other sharp instrument related to murder in the first degree - child under 12 years of age
- Count 13 - Crime of violence (special enhancer) - unlawfully causing the death of Gannon Stauch related to murder in the first degree - child under 12 years of age