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Stauch trial enters 2nd week, medical examiner describes Gannon's injuries

The medical examiner said this was a "violent death," and the injuries were intentional acts targeted toward the upper body, head and chest area.
Posted at 8:41 AM, Apr 10, 2023

COLORADO SPRINGS — Testimony in the second week of Letecia Stauch's murder trial began with reviewing the autopsy report showing Gannon's injuries. Graphic photos were shown to jurors in the courtroom, and the medical examiner said hydrocodone was found during the autopsy for Gannon.

Jurors also learned about a fake polygraph test Letecia requested, and how she pretended to be her teenage daughter when she called the Sheriff's Office asking for her items back. Surveillance video from a nearby neighbor's home also showed Letecia and Gannon together on the day of his disappearance.

According to the medical examiner, Gannon was beaten, stabbed, and shot before being placed in a suitcase and dumped on the side of the road in Florida.

Susan Ignacio is an associate medical examiner in Largo, Florida. She testified there were 18 sharp-force injuries and four lacerations associated with blunt-force trauma to Gannon's body. Ignacio said some of the injuries are consistent with defensive wounds.

She also noted hydrocodone was found in the victim's system during the autopsy. She said it’s unusual to find this prescribed controlled substance in a child’s system.

The cause of death was determined to be a gunshot wound and blunt force trauma to the head. Ignacio called it a "violent death," and added the injuries were intentional acts targeted toward the upper body, head and chest area. She said that indicates that the attacker wanted to cause fatal injuries to the victim.

Al Stauch, Gannon's dad, was called to the witness stand. He testified about how he injured his finger in May 2019 and got prescription medications to deal with the pain, including hydrocodone. He said only he and Letecia knew where it was kept.

The next witness to be called to the stand was Andrew Cohen, a special agent for the FBI since 2014. District Attorney Michael Allen said Cohen will be testifying more than once during this trial. Special Agent Cohen said he was involved in the wiretap investigation into Letecia Stauch. He said it was apparent that Letecia was switching the way she was communicating after Gannon’s disappearance.

Cohen said Letecia had her original phone taken by law enforcement shortly after Gannon was reported missing. He said, Letecia then bought a phone from a Walmart in Trinidad, Colorado, then left the state. He said the phone was purchased using a name that wasn’t hers.

The courtroom listened to four wiretap phone calls initiated by Letecia in February 2020. Cohen said the phone number that Letecia called was connected to a website for fake polygraphs. On one of the wiretap phone calls, Letecia is asking about a report she made to the fake polygraph company that included questions about infidelity.

Cohen said Letecia had contacted Al Stauch, Gannon’s father, about the results of the fake polygraph. She told him she had passed the polygraph test, and continued vouching for her innocence and that she had nothing to do with Gannon’s disappearance.

The next witness to be called to the stand is Christina Cervantez. In Early 2020, she was an evidence technician with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Cervantez said she received several phone calls from callers saying they would like certain items and pieces of the property back that belonged to Letecia Stauch.

Cervantez said she received several phone calls from Letecia herself, and several phone calls that allegedly sounded like Letecia, where she claimed to be her daughter, Harley. Cervantez told her they cannot release any of the items because they are being held as evidence in the case.

This ended Christina Cervantez's testimony.

The next witness to be called to the stand is Detective Michael Bauman, a digital forensics detective with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. He said his job is to find and preserve data that may be evidence on electronic devices like computers, cell phones, and DVRs.

Detective Bauman said he created a report for two devices during the Stauch investigation, a cell phone that belonged to Letecia, and another cell phone that was seized from Letecia when she was in South Carolina.

The next witness called to the stand was Detective Christina Perry, with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. In early 2020, she was assigned to look into social media pages to gather more information or find any notable leads into Gannon’s disappearance.

Perry testified saying after she learned that Letecia had a rental car, she searched for Letecia’s car at local schools and at the Colorado Springs Airport, and she said they could not find Letecia’s car.

Perry said she was there for a conversation between Harley, Letecia’s daughter, and law enforcement after Gannon’s disappearance. Perry said anytime she mentioned anything about Gannon’s disappearance, Harley refused to say anything. Perry said she found that odd.

Detective Perry said they searched local dumpsters, a landfill, etc. to find evidence, but they didn’t find anything. Perry said she was also made aware of a $2,600 transaction from Harley’s account to Letecia’s account after Gannon's disappearance. Perry said this made investigators think that she was moving money to be able to flee the state.

Perry also testified saying Letecia showed up late for an interview at the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Perry said that Letecia was driving the vehicle they had been searching for, and she said it appeared that Letecia’s vehicle had just been washed.

Perry said investigators got a tracking warrant to be aware of Letecia’s location, and a tracking unit was placed on Letecia’s vehicle.

Clips of surveillance video from a neighbor’s home were then played for the court, a few away from the Stauch home. You can see Letecia walk to the vehicle and back the vehicle into the driveway. Gannon then walked to the vehicle and got inside. The vehicle left at 10:15 a.m. January 27. The vehicle is then seen returning around 2:30 p.m. Perry said Letecia got out of the vehicle, and there was also a shadow with what appears to be Gannon stepping outside of the vehicle.

Cross-examination for Perry was quick. She testified saying she watched more than 40 hours of surveillance video, and did not hear gunshots. She was also asked if the utility workers outside of the home were interviewed and heard gunshots. She said she didn’t know.

This ended the testimony of Detective Perry.

The next witness called to the stand was Detective Tim Ferrell, with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. He described what he saw at the Stauch home on the night of January 28, 2020.

Detective Ferrell said detectives found a pair of shoes on the washer/dryer that seemed out of place, with a pink residue on the soles. He said investigators had suspicions that it was blood, and the shoes had attempted to be washed.

Ferrell said detectives also observed and took photos of evidence in and around the home. He said there were burn marks on the couch in the basement and a piece of carpet that had been cut out. Ferrell also said there were trash cans in the backyard, which included the piece of carpet that was cut out. They also found a candle with a piece of fabric inside the candle that didn’t match the burned carpet or the couch.

Ferrell said detectives then went to Gannon’s room and took all the blankets and sheets off of Gannon’s bed. He said there was a discoloration on the mattress. Ferrell said detectives also found guns in the master bedroom, including the master bedroom closet. Ferrell said, “Something seemed off. We couldn’t put a finger on it”.

Ferrell said that's when they had more suspicions of what had happened to Gannon. He said, “We were concerned based on her (Letecia’s) actions, and how she was acting… That there may be something more than we know at this point.”

On Friday, jurors in the Letecia Stauch trial learned more about the evidence in the case, including the suitcase Gannon Stauch's body was found in, the 12-hour stay at a Florida hotel a week after her stepson disappeared, the local school she just got hired at, and suspicious text messages with her neighbor.

Day 4 testimony wrap-up

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.

Stauch has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in this case.

Among the witnesses called to testify by the prosecution on Friday was Lt. Jason Hess with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Hess said he was part of the investigation early on when Gannon was reported missing. On January 28, he had a phone conversation with Letecia, who told him Gannon had not returned home and she didn’t have any new information.

Hess described responding to more than 30 calls throughout his career about a runway or missing child. He said emotional reactions can vary, but in similar situations to Gannon's, when a young boy is missing overnight, the parent's emotions are more visible and present.111

Hess was asked by the prosecution if Letecia appeared to be suffering from any mental illnesses, and Hess said “no.” He added that she would answer his questions logically, and understand what questions he was asking her.

The defense began their cross-examination of Hess and asked him how many people he’s met who suffer from a dissociative identity disorder. He said he doesn’t believe he’s met any.

READ MORE:
READ THE ARREST AFFIDAVIT FOR LETECIA STAUCH
Gannon's father says his ex-wife was 100% sane
Prosecutors challenge insanity claim during opening statements in Letecia Stauch's murder trial

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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