Judge says ‘all force reasonably necessary’ can be used to get Letecia Stauch to appear in court

Letecia Stauch was arrested March 2, 2020 and suspected of her stepson's murder, Gannon...
Letecia Stauch was arrested March 2, 2020 and suspected of her stepson's murder, Gannon Stauch. (Photo from El Paso County Sheriff's Office)(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 12:11 PM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A judge is considering whether the woman accused of killing her stepson can undergo another mental health evaluation after her most recent evaluation found her sane.

Letecia Stauch is accused of murdering 11-year-old Gannon Stauch in January 2020 and then trying to pass it off as a runaway case. His remains were found in a suitcase under a highway in Florida two months after his disappearance. He had been brutally harmed before his death, according to investigators.

Stauch was arrested in South Carolina five weeks to the day after Gannon was reported missing, and despite a couple of attempts by her lawyers to allow her to bond out, has remained in the El Paso County jail since she was extradited back to Colorado on March 5, 2020.

Stauch’s arrest affidavit, which includes more details on the case, can be found here.

Since her first court appearance, the case against Stauch, 39, has hit road bump after road bump, with everything from the pandemic to a brief attempt by Stauch to represent herself creating delays. Most recently, its been stalled for months while the court waited for the results of the latest sanity evaluation conducted by the state hospital in Pueblo earlier this year. Stauch changed her plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity in February, a few short months after a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence against her to move the case to trial. Any insanity plea requires the state to conduct a mental health evaluation, and the case cannot move forward until one is completed. If Stauch were found sane, she’d be able to stand trial.

Again and again in the following months, court would convene to discuss the results, and the judge would be told more time was needed. Finally in late July, Judge Gregory Werner warned if the evaluation wasn’t finished in another four weeks, the state hospital would be required to explain to the court why the evaluation was still not done. Days after issuing that warning, the court received the completed evaluation.

Stauch was required to attend a conference in August to go over the results of the assessment. While the findings were restricted and media was not made privy to the details, our crew in the courtroom heard the judge use the word “sane” in reference to the evaluation. The defense then asked for another sanity evaluation, conducted by their own experts, and the judge scheduled a hearing for Sept. 15 to discuss that request.

Fast-forwarding to Thursday’s hearing, Warner said he would consider a second evaluation and scheduled an evidentiary hearing for Oct. 13 to hear testimony from the commander at the El Paso County jail and a defense-appointed psychiatrist. The judge said he would use that testimony to weigh whether to allow another evaluation.

Also under discussion in October is a concern prosecutors raised about where Stauch will be housed if an outside psychiatrist does her next evaluation. She had been at the state hospital, but prosecutors told the judge the hospital might refuse to hold her if its staff isn’t doing the evaluation. The El Paso County jail and Parkview Medical Center in Pueblo have been mentioned as housing alternatives.

Stauch arrived at her hearing Thursday nearly an hour late, having reportedly refused to go. Going forward, Warner ruled Thursday that officers can force Stauch to come to court -- even if she refuses.

“We had a conversation a while back about you needing to be here, and what it would look like if you [refuse],” Werner told Stauch at the end of the hearing. He said he has ordered deputies to use “all force reasonably necessary” to make sure Stauch leaves the jail on court days.”

Stauch claimed it was hygiene issues that kept her from court, alleging at one point that inmates weren’t being given toilet paper. She also complained about a lack of air conditioning in the transport van.

But Werner said whatever the reason, she will have to be in the courtroom going forward, whether she wants to or not.

“One thing you do not have a choice about going forward is whether you’re going to appear,” he said.