By: Ashley Portillo, Aidan Hulting
EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KOAA) — The murder trial of Letecia Stauch, the Colorado woman accused of murdering her stepson in 2020, continued Wednesday with long-awaited sanity evaluations from mental health professionals.
The first witness to be called to the stand Wednesday morning was Dr. Jackie Grimmett. She worked as a forensic psychologist at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo in 2020. Dr. Grimmett conducted a competency evaluation on Letecia Stauch in December 2020.
Dr. Grimmett said she met with Letecia Stauch for about 3 hours and 40 minutes. This was a court-ordered competency evaluation requested by the defense.
Before meeting with Stauch, Dr. Grimmett reviewed the discovery in the case, which included police reports, video, and a lot of information pertaining directly to the case. She said she noted a lot of consistencies in the report and was concerned about that.
Early on in her testimony, Dr. Grimmett said during her interaction with Letecia Stauch, “She was humming to herself, she was hitting her head on the wall. She seemed happier than she should’ve been.”
“At some point, she turned around to talk to somebody else, then turned around to talk to me. She said she was talking to a vampire,” said Dr. Grimmett, talking about her interaction with Letecia Stauch.
WATCH: Doctor Who Examined Letecia Stauch Analyzes Evaluation
Dr. Grimmett said Stauch was complaining about nightmares and anxiety and mentioned being bipolar. Dr. Grimmett said she consistently observed Stauch not having mental health issues, hallucinations, etc. and Stauch did not mention anything about dissociative identity disorder.
Stauch told Dr. Grimmett she was impulsive all her life, was hyper, and would be manic for a few minutes to a few hours. Dr. Grimmett said she didn’t rule out anything at first.
Dr. Grimmett said Stauch mentioned two instances where she found herself in places where she hadn’t planned on being. Stauch also told her she had various personalities, and she named them.
She named Taylor, Tecia, Jasmine, and I believe Jasper,” said Dr. Grimmet, when testifying about the different personalities Letecia Stauch claimed she had.
Dr. Grimmett said she didn’t see any signs that Letecia Stauch was changing personalities. She said she considered dissociative identity disorder as a diagnosis. She also said she has never reviewed someone with dissociative identity disorder.
Dr. Grimmett said dissociative identity disorder affects up to 1% of people. She said it’s a very destructive behavioral disorder and can be very frightening because people don’t know what’s happening to them.
She added dissociative identity disorder can be strange, and people can’t hold down jobs or hold down relationships. She said when talking to Stauch, Stauch’s history didn’t support that.
Dr. Grimmett said Stauch had selective names based on things she liked and aspirations she had. She added, “Alter egos present themselves to you,” and people don’t create them.
When testifying about Letecia Stauch referencing vampires, Dr. Grimmett said, “Mrs. Stauch introduced a vampire called Justice and said there is a button in her cell where she could summon Justice and Jasmine.”
Dr. Grimmett said Letecia Stauch said she’s been experiencing the vampires since her stay in Alaska. She said Stauch referenced the vampires throughout the interview and also directed Dr. Grimmett toward the movie Twilight.
Grimmett said she didn’t ask Stauch about vampires initially. “It sounded like a fabrication… It seemed like she was conveying a story from fiction,” said Dr. Grimmett.
According to Dr. Grimmett, it seemed like Letecia Stauch was presenting symptoms that she didn’t have, and there were some suggestions she wasn’t as impaired as she was portraying.
Dr. Grimmett said she believed Letecia Stauch has personality dysfunction, including borderline personality disorder and a narcissistic personality.
Dr. Grimmett also said Letecia Stauch talked about Gannon and his death. She said Stauch, based on her religious beliefs, believed Gannon could be brought back to life. Dr. Grimmett said, “Clinically it appeared delusional,” but it was something to explore further.
Dr. Grimmett said the symptoms Letecia Stauch presented, seemed to be an effort for Stauch to achieve something for herself. She said Stauch was trying to feel better and make sense of her situation while making efforts to portray herself in different ways.
Dr. Grimmett said there was an absence of mental illnesses, but some behavior was present, which included borderline personality disorder and a narcissistic personality. Dr. Grimmett believed Letecia Stauch was competent to stand trial.
During cross-examination of Dr. Grimmett, defense attorneys questioned how sexual abuse and assault as a child can impact an adult, and how it’s more traumatic if it’s a family member as opposed to a stranger.
The defense also questioned how mental disabilities impact someone’s ability to hold a job or keep relationships with people, and how someone who can’t do either of these may be showing signs of a mental disability.
The defense also questioned that diagnosing dissociative identity disorder can take years and that dissociative identity disorder and borderline personality disorder can be caused by childhood trauma.
The next witness to be called to the stand in the trial was Dr. Loandra Torres, who works in the Office of Civil and Forensic Mental Health for the state of Colorado. She testified as an expert in the field of forensic psychology.
Dr. Torres said she got involved in the Letecia Stauch case in 2020, and conducted Stauch’s initial competency evaluation along with Dr. Thomas Gray. After Stauch pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2022, Dr. Torres and Dr. Gray also completed another sanity evaluation.
Dr. Torres is testifying about the competency evaluation she and Dr. Grey completed on Stauch in mid-2020. Dr. Torres said Stauch was staying at the hospital for about two weeks before they saw her, which allowed for some observation.
Dr. Torres said during the 2020 competency evaluation, Stauch never mentioned being psychiatrically hospitalized. Dr. Torres said during the sanity evaluation in 2022, Stauch said she was psychiatrically hospitalized in Canada but wasn’t able to tell them what hospital or in what city.
Dr. Torres said when Stauch arrived at the mental health hospital, she told staff she heard voices in the past related to an ex-husband, wasn’t currently experiencing hallucinations, had past trauma and flashbacks, had panic attacks several times a week, etc.
This story was originally published on April 26, 2023, by KOAA in Colorado Springs, an E.W. Scripps Company.