By: Ashley Portillo, Aidan Hulting
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (Scripps News Colorado Springs) — The jury is deliberating in the case of Letecia Stauch, the Colorado mother accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch. The jury began deliberating on Friday evening and did not reach a verdict. They will return Monday morning to resume deliberations.
Stauch did not testify in her own defense in the case. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity to charges she killed Gannon inside the family home in early 2020 and then dumped his body inside a suitcase along the side of a road in Florida.
Friday began in court with Judge Gregory Werner going over jury instructions. He explained that if Stauch is found not guilty by reason of insanity, she will be remanded to the Department of Human Services until she no longer requires hospitalization or suffers from a mental disease or defect. Jury instructions also stated that if Stauch is found not guilty by reason of insanity, she will not be tried on these charges again.
Closing arguments began at 10:00 a.m. on Friday with Prosecutor Dave Young, who thanked the jurors for sitting through a long trial and a lot of evidence. “I want to say thank you for that. You guys have been very attentive. You’ve asked some very good questions that I’m going to use in my closing argument,” said Young.
READ MORE: CO v. Letecia Stauch: Daily Trial Updates
“Gannon’s been in a box for the whole trial. This is what the trial should be about. I’m not doing this to get sympathy from you,” said Young. “I’m doing this to tell you what Gannon had to tell you through this trial through the autopsy is all you need to know.”
Young asked the jury, “If his body wasn’t found in Florida, do you think we’d be talking about insanity in this trial?”
Jurors were shown Gannon’s autopsy report again for review.
“Just by looking at these injuries what does that tell you? Gannon was defending himself, he was fighting off. Despite having hydrocodone in his system, despite being lethargic. He was able to fight her off… 18 times she took a knife and stabbed him,” said Young. “As Gannon is fighting, the stab wounds are to his back. But it’s not just the stab wounds. She has to use judgment and reflection to get another weapon. What that weapon was, who knows. But she got another weapon and hit him in the skull several times,” said Young.
Young displayed the bridge where Gannon’s body was and asked if an insane person would dump a body where they believed no one would find it. Young referenced Letecia’s willingness to drive all the way to Florida from Decatur.
Young talked about the sight the bridge inspector Macon Ponder found when he dumped a suitcase out under a bridge revealing Gannon’s body.
Young pivoted to focus on Letecia’s mental health and claims of insanity. Young asked, so what does insanity mean? She was so diseased or defective in mind, she couldn’t distinguish right from wrong. But “If you lost your temper, you don’t get to claim insanity,” said Young.
Young went over the legal definition of insanity: “Mental disease or defect means only those ‘severely abnormal mental conditions that grossly and demonstrably impair a person’s perception or understanding of reality.’”
Young asked Jurors, if Letecia was clinically insane, wouldn’t Harley, Letecias long-time daughter have noticed a serious issue? Don’t you think Al Stauch, might have noticed something severely wrong or off with Letecia’s behavior? What about Letecia’s half-brother, wouldn’t he have noticed something too?
Young talked about Dr. Niederhauser and Dr. Mohr, who worked with Stauch. Dr. Niederhauser worked with Stauch in December 2019. Stauch told her she has general anxiety. Dr. Mohr worked with Stauch after she was arrested. Stauch also told her that she only had general anxiety.
Young said it wasn’t until June 2020 that Stauch brought up questions about her competency.
Young said in July 2020, Stauch went to the state hospital and was evaluated. “It was a two-week observation period where nurses and employees are watching her. She actually goes to a nurse, ‘Can you tell when someone is faking it?’”
Young said Stauch said, “‘I’ve got bipolar disorder. I’m a manic-depressant. I ramble. I’m a manic depression, that’s my mental illness.’ Nothing about dissociative identity disorder, which according to Dr. Lewis she’s had since a very young age. Nothing about Maria Sanchez.”
Young questioned the jury, “Don’t you think she might be faking it?” Young went on to a site that during the initial
evaluations of Stauch, there was no evidence of psychosis.
Young went on to look at the second competency evaluation done on Stauch in December 2020, citing the fact that Stauch decided to start talking about dissociative identity disorder and bipolar disorder.
Young said Stauch pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in February 2022. He said Dr. Dorothy Lewis recommended that Stauch change her plea to not guilty by reason of insanity. Then Stauch went back to the state hospital for yet another sanity evaluation.
“What is the defendant saying now? She’s not bipolar. Now she’s created more personalities as part of dissociative identity disorder,” continued Young. “Is it a coincidence that she’s consulted with Dr. Lewis prior to this? And now Maria Sanchez comes into play during this evaluation.”
Dr. Torres and Dr. Grey asked if they could talk to Maria. “We saw how that happened on Wednesday. It was magic according to Dr. Lewis,” said Dr. Young. Dr. Torres and Dr. Grey said Stauch has a personality with borderline and narcissistic features.
Young talked about how Dr. Lewis testified, “She’s acting… You have to look at her demeanor and manner while testifying. She wouldn’t answer any of my questions because she didn’t want you to know the answers… She shows up to court late. Talk about narcissistic tendencies.”
Young continued to talk about Dr.Lerwis’ testimony, saying it spoke for itself. Young criticized Dr. Lewis saying she did not even know the legal definition of insanity in Colorado. Citing this was the whole reason she came to Colorado to testify.
A video that was taken by Letecia showed Gannon’s burns. Young asked, “Why did she videotape this? Do you think it was about Gannon’s burns?”
Young said, the next morning, Stauch texted her assistant principal saying her stepfather was killed. “Could it possibly mean she knew what she was going to do? Because shortly after that, she calls Gannon’s school and says he’s not coming in. And then texts Al.”
Young asked, “How could she do this? How could she talk to Gannon’s father like nothing happened? Is that traits of an antisocial personality order? The fact you can be so cold and callous and act like nothing happened. And she does it throughout the whole day. You guys know that.”
Young went on talking about how Letecia put Gannon’s body in the back of her Tiguan, then dropped it off at the airport, and rented another vehicle. Then Letecia picked Al up. Young said Letecia returned to the airport, presumably to check on the Tiguan with Gannon’s body in it.
Young said Al then went to French Elementary School that day. “When he sees the Tiguan is not there, he now knows that his wife had something to do with the disappearance of Gannon… and the investigation now looks at her.”
Letecia sat in court for much of the closing arguments with her head down.
Prosecutors then played the KKTV interview that Letecia did after Gannon’s disappearance. Words like “was” and “manipulation” kept showing up on the screen.
During the video, photos were shown of Gannon in bed, the blood evidence in his room, the GPS data from her phone and car, the area where the blood-stained piece of wood was found, a map of her drive to Florida, and where the suitcase with Gannon’s body was found.
Young went over several of Letecia’s stories about what happened to Gannon. “Eduardo, immunity, Quincy Brown, several different versions of that, bike accident, Uncle Matt. The one that is really significant is, ‘When she says I’m so sorry Al, I wasn’t telling you the truth.’”
Young said, “What people who are truly legally insane do under these circumstances… They don’t act like that,” as he points to Letecia Stauch.
Young ended his closing argument by saying, “There is only one right verdict in this case and that’s guilty to every charge that she’s charged with.” That ended closing arguments by prosecutors.
Josh Tolini, Stauch’s attorney, began his closing arguments by telling the jury to focus on the lack of motive presented by the prosecution. The defense said there is no explanation for the motive besides a psychotic break.
“This wasn’t a preplanned, calculated killing for some game. This was a psychotic break fueled by rage, attacking a demon from the past,” said Tolini. “This was not pre-mediated murder. This was a psychotic break. That is the only thing that makes sense.”
Tolini said this was the biggest investigation in the history ever of El Paso County, and no family members or anyone the prosecution interviewed ever said anything bad about Letecia and Gannon’s relationship.
Tolini said the fire from the candle incident set off some triggers, and Stauch had a meltdown after the fire. He said she wasn’t sleeping and was manic at the time. She was texting throughout the night and early in the morning.
Tolini said, “Something is going on in her mind. Something in there is losing it. Something occurs in the basement, a brutal attack with rage… The brutal attack is the strongest evidence in this case.”
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Tolini said there are only two things that account for her actions at this point in time. It’s either dissociation or she puts what happened to Gannon, that brutal attack, into a place in her mind that she doesn’t remember.
Tolini referenced the body camera footage of deputies appearing at the Stauch house. Where Letecia can be seen acting normal, laughing, and joking with Police. Tolini said that this is a perfect example showing Letecia’s disassociation from the horrible act she allegedly committed.
Tolini reiterated that Stauch was not sleeping at all, and she was in a manic situation and her mind was not working. He added, what she did and all the stories she told, were irrational.
Tolini said, “It makes no sense for somebody who has pre-planned to brutally kill Gannon, then to report him missing right away, and then a matter of three days later to go police with a completely illogical story… None of that is rational. None of that makes sense.”
Tolini circled back talking about Dr. Lewis, the defense’s psychiatrist who conducted a sanity evaluation on Stauch. Tolini said she’s 85 years old and has been researching people with mental illnesses for decades. “She was groundbreaking in her field,” said Tolini.
Tolini said Dr. Lewis has more expertise on this subject that anyone else in the country. He admitted that Dr. Lewis confused some things with her memory during her testimony. “I’m not disputing that… Do not discount the decades of her experience. To not discount her expertise.”
Tolini reiterated to the jury that Dr. Lewis said, “Mrs Stauch is one of the most mentally ill people she’s ever dealt with.” Tolini said she didn’t endorse that it was Maria who did this. What she said was that Stauch dissociated the memory of the homicide because she can’t bear to deal with it.
Tolini said Stauch cannot accept the idea that she committed this brutal, horrible homicide. “To accept the fact in her mind would crush her, would crush her soul, would crush her identity. So she’s trying to come up with another fantasy of what happened.”
Tolini said all the doctors agreed Stauch has some kind of mental illness, but they didn’t agree with which one she had. As jurors heard during testimony, with borderline personality disorder, people can suffer from psychosis, become irrational and dissociate with things they cannot deal with.
Tolini talked about Dakota Lowery’s testimony, who is Letecia’s half-brother. He said Lowery testified that Letecia would leave knives with him so he could protect himself from something or someone. “You have the connection of Gannon being stabbed with a knife 18 times.”
Tolini asked the jury, “We are asking you to find her not guilty by reason of insanity… We’re saying for you to take into account the mental illness that she suffered.”
The defense finished their closing arguments and the court was dismissed for a ten-minute recess before the prosecution provided their rebuttal.
District Attorney Michael Allen is beginning the prosecutor’s rebuttal. “The only fantasy in this courtroom that this defendant, this stepmother who killed Gannon had a psychotic break,” began Allen.
“This defendant hated Gannon. You know that because she searched for it. ‘I hate my stepson’… She wanted to hurt Al,” said Allen. “She wanted to hurt Landon for that matter. She did to the core. They will never recover from what she did to them.”
Allen said the actions of her freaking out were acting. Allen said that based on her internet searches, Stauch was calculated, manipulating, and lying to everyone. “She deflects the blame and makes herself the victim.”
Allen said the candle incident makes no sense. “Because she wants to make it Gannon’s fault. Mr. Stauch told you the answer to that question. Harley told you the answer to that question. He didn’t play with fire. He didn’t light candles randomly.”
Allen asked the jury if it made more sense that Letecia burned Gannon. Allen went on to talk about the hydrocodone. “That’s why he’s lethargic, he can’t get out of bed early like he normally would. Walking slowly to the pickup truck in the morning, because he’s under the influence of hydrocodone.”
Allen said while Tolini tried to discredit the hydrocodone in Gannon’s system, Allen argued it should have never been there in the first place, citing that hydrocodone is not often prescribed to 11-year-old boys.
Allen talked about the picture from the hike at Garden of the Gods. These were, “Proof of life pictures she is sending out to prove to the world she has nothing to do with what she was about to do… It was a way to cover her tracks and it starts early.”
Allen said everything Stauch has done in her life was manipulated and calculated. Citing the fact she lied to Al, and to Harley, her own daughter about the death of her actual father.
Allen said, “The biggest investigation that El Paso county has ever seen, that involves the FBI. That’s who she is, she is a storyteller. Telling fantastic stories is not psychosis. It’s who she is,” as he points to Letecia Stauch.
Allen said Dr. Lewis didn’t even know what the definition of insanity is in Colorado, and Lewis was the only doctor that got up on the stand to say Letecia experienced signs of dissociative identity disorder.
Allen said, “There’s plenty of evidence to find this defendant guilty… Why do all the things she did if she didn’t know right from wrong?”
“This woman doesn’t have a diseased mind. She has no psychosis…,” continued Allen. “Family members gave the answers to you. Harley said it. Dakota Lowery said it. Al Stauch said it.”
WATCH: Jury Sees Letecia Stauch’s Interview with Psychiatrist
Allen went on to list the many instances where Letecia Stauch manipulated family members, law enforcement officers, and co-workers throughout the investigation. Acts like these are not the acts of a crazy person, these are actions of an individual who is calculated and planned synthesized Allen.
Allen proceeded to show a photo of Gannon and played a 911 call from Letecia Stauch on the day Gannon was killed, as she was reporting that Gannon is missing.
Allen ended his rebuttal by saying “Gannon deserves justice. This defendant deserves to be convicted. Gannon Jacob Stauch. 11 years old. Find the defendant guilty… Gannon deserves it. He deserves all of the justice that you can give him.”
Al Stauch, Gannon’s father, had his head in his hands and was weeping, as he was being comforted by family members around him. Judge Werner began to explain the deliberation process for jurors and provided some court recommendations to make the process flow better.
Many in the courtroom were sniffling and wiping away tears, as Gannon’s photo of him smiling, was still being shown on the screen.
Judge Werner dismissed 12 of the 17 jurors to begin deliberation. The five alternate jurors remained to hear Werner explain that they will not be deliberating, but that their jury service is not over, in case they need to step in as an alternate.
This story was originally published on May 5, 2023, by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.