EL PASO COUNTY — On Thursday afternoon, the El Paso County woman accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, pleaded not guilty and her case has been set for trial on March 28. The trial is expected to last for six weeks.
On September 23, Judge Gregory Werner ruled the evidence presented by prosecutors during the preliminary hearing was sufficient to take the case to trial.
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.
Letecia waived her right to be present during her preliminary hearing, but the judge ordered she must physically appear for her plea hearing.
During testimony at the preliminary hearing, 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.
Dr. Susan Ignacio, a forensic pathologist in Florida, performed the autopsy. She noted one gunshot wound, one skull fracture, and eighteen sharp-force wounds, including those on the arms and hands which were 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.
A 9 mm gun was recovered from Al and Letecia Stauch's bedroom. A sergeant from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office believes the 9 mm gun was used to fire the rounds collected in Florida. Particularly, the one recovered from Gannon's head was consistent with the firearm.
For the upcoming trial, the defense said on Thursday they plan on introducing new evidence regarding a mental health issue related to Letecia. It is not an insanity plea and is separate from the issue of competency. Letecia has been found competent to stand trial twice.
The mental health defense only applies 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.
If any evidence is introduced regarding a mental health issue, and if expert testimony is to be offered at trial, #Stauch MUST be examined.— Colette Bordelon (@ColetteBordelon) November 4, 2021
Judge Werner sees this as creating an immediate evaluation issue. @KOAA
The prosecution, defense, and judge will reconvene on December 9 to discuss the mental health defense, and develop a plan to proceed.
Gannon's family also attended the plea hearing on Thursday, including both of his parents who hadn't seen Letecia in person in months.
"This is the first time they've seen her in person in a long time, right. And I think from anybody's standpoint that's got kids or is a parent, it would be an emotional thing to finally see that person again after as much time has elapsed as it has," said District Attorney Michael Allen.
A full list of charges filed against Stauch are as follows:
- 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