By: Ashley Portillo, Aidan Hulting, Benjamin Lloyd, Marcus Cocova
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (Scripps News Colorado Springs) — A Colorado woman accused of murdering her 11-year-old stepson and disposing of his body in a suitcase was found guilty on all counts on Monday.
A jury found Letecia Stauch guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree murder of a person under age 12, guilty of tampering with a deceased human body and guilty of tampering with physical evidence. The jury spent both Friday and Monday considering an insanity plea from Letecia, who had claimed to have dissociative identity disorder.
After a short break for the judge to talk with the jury, the trial’s sentencing phase began immediately with victim impact statements from the family.
WATCH: Stepmother Murder Trial: Victim Impact Statements
Landen Bullard, Gannon’s Mother began her statement, “I miss you Gannon and I love you, I and your sisters will miss you every day… You came into this world fighting and unfortunately, you left this world fighting… For three years I have wondered what I would say, for three years I have wondered if I will be able to say anything… You had support and appreciation from me even when I could not see eye to eye… I can’t say that she ruined my life, for that would be a form of sick victory for her, because even through this process it has been a game for her… Instead of taking that power and allowing her to hurt me further, I wanted to tell you this, let me tell you what Gannon has done, even to this day, even after you hurt him and taint any positive image of him, he has caused families and communities and children’s and adults to come to the of Christ. He has called unity in times of trial, he is a hero… You stole so much from this world, cousins, grandparents, and siblings, Laina is missing her brother… Gannon is not forgotten… I’ve had to sit and listen and watch every reenactment of images, no one wants left in their mind, you wanted to leave us with that knowing it would torture us, but you underestimated me! I am Landen, Gannon’s mom and that will never change, through my hurt, anger, and pain I will never be the monster that she is. I can never be filled with the hate that her heart holds, I pray that we will never have to look at her face again. I will continue to hold on to my faith, vengeance is not mine as I surely wish it could be at times, but it’s the Lord’s, I have to trust that. Thank you, Judge Werner for your compassion, your patience, I want to thank the Jurors for their attentiveness.”
Al Stauch, Gannon’s father, spoke after Landen and was joined by his wife, Melissa.
“Some may say or think that I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Tecia. In part that may be accurate and I would be okay with that because then Gannon would still be here. I too know the pain of losing a child. There is no greater pain, we are now lifelong grief partners with two sons waiting in heaven for us,” said Al, sharing the words Melissa wrote on her behalf.
Al went on to read a poem: “Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pull to pull, I thank whatever god may be from my unconquerable soul. In the failed clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried allowed, under the bludgeoning of chance my head is bloody, but I am bowed. Beyond this place of the breath and tears, looms but the horror of the shade, and yet the minutes of the years, finds show find me unafraid. It matters not how straight the gate, how charged with punishment the scroll, I am the master of my fate I am the captain of my soul.”
“The poem I read is named Invictus, translated from Latin it means unconquerable. I quoted this same poem at Gannon’s memorial here in Colorado Springs back in August 2020. Why August of 2020? When his body was ripped to shreds on January 27th? Well, as we heard testimony his body was found 1370 miles away, then the process to identify his maggot-infested remains was held from us until July 2020. As I stated in my testimony on the stand Gannon was born severely premature and barely filled my two hands. At the end of his life his body was cremated into a pile of ashes, he was ultimately no bigger than the first time I held him. As brutal as the work was I am glad the bridge workers found him and returned his body to us… Your honor I refused to allow anger to poison my soul. Now for my precious premature-born son, Gannon, I never thought in my wildest dreams that you would be in danger and I would have never left you with what turned out to be a murder and the last person to see you on this earth. I’m sorry….”
Judge Werner began his sentencing with, “A parent’s worst nightmare is getting a phone call letting them know that something has happened to their child, how much worse must that nightmare be when law enforcement asks, not for a picture of your loved one, but for DNA and dental records. I have also heard it said that one of the worst tragedies for a parent is to outlive a child.”
RELATED: Crazy or culpable? Dissociative identity disorder in the courtroom
Werner sentenced Stauch to life in prison without the possibility of parole, with another 12 years for tampering with a deceased human body, and 19 months for tampering with physical evidence.
During sentencing, defendants are given the opportunity to address the court regarding their sentencing, Letecia declined to speak.
This story was originally published on May 8, 2023, by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.