COLORADO SPRINGS (KOAA) — It’s been a little more than three years since 11-year-old Gannon Stauch was reported missing from his family home just southeast of Colorado Springs.
Now, his stepmother Leticia Stauch’s first-degree murder trial is set to begin in El Paso County this week.
Jury selection is expected to last up to two weeks, with an expected start of evidence presentation no later than April 3, and about six weeks of trial for the presentation of the case.
As is normal in Colorado courts, media coverage of the events will be limited. Judge Greg Werner is allowing one member of the print media and one from electronic media in the courtroom for jury selection. As of right now, no cameras will be 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.
The judge expressed his opinion of the biggest obstacle in the jury selection process will be jurors claiming hardship for being involved in such a long case, and in his experience, concerns about the nature of the case and the age of the victim. Concerns about pre-trial publicity were considered secondary as the court does not expect to find people who have never heard about the case.
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 Leticia 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 Leticia 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, Leticia 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.
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.
What’s ahead in the trial
In the years since Leticia Stauch’s arrest, she’s been in court many times for hearings about her mental competency, whether she would represent herself in court, and has made accusations of mistreatment.
She’s pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the criminal case. News5 has reported on the original arrest affidavit in the case and limited information presented in pre-trial hearings. We expect to learn much more about how investigators say Leticia Stuach misled investigators at the same time the community was working to hopefully find Gannon alive.
Civil case filed in federal court
Leticia Stauch has a pending federal lawsuit claiming her first and eighth amendment rights were violated in jail. Stauch names a medical service provider, and a food service provider, as well as two El Paso County deputies in the complaint.
Stauch claims she’s been mistreated while in jail by claiming she was not properly given kosher food and that the jail neglected to give her medical care.
Currently, the case is in the initial review period with the court. A judge will decide if the case should be dismissed or if it should proceed.
This story was originally published March 20, 2023 by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.