Defense says its sanity report found Letecia Stauch insane, as jury selection in trial continues
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The woman accused of killing her stepson was insane at the time of his murder, her defense attorneys told the courtroom Tuesday, citing a sanity report conducted by one of its experts.
It was the latest development in what is expected to be a lengthy jury selection process, on top of what has already been a drawn out legal case.
Jury selection in the Letecia Stauch case began Monday, more than three years after her 11-year-old stepson was brutally killed and his remains hidden for months. The trial has been a long time coming for Gannon Stauch’s loved ones, who have faced years of delays in the case, with everything from the pandemic to a brief attempt by the defendant to represent herself causing setbacks.
Now, with jury selection underway, the trial process has officially begun.
Jury selection is expected to take days if not weeks, in part because of the strong likelihood that much of jury pool has been exposed to media coverage on the case. The judge has said it could take prosecutors and the defense longer to seat an impartial jury.
During the first two days of selection, a number of prospective jurors told the court they didn’t believe they could be unbiased in this case. Others told the court that while they had an opinion on the case, they were willing to hear both sides out and presume Stauch’s innocence until proven guilty.
Stauch, now 39, is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson Gannon in January 2020 and then trying to pass it off as a runaway case. The missing persons case made national headlines and brought people across the country into Facebook groups dedicated to both discussion and amateur sleuthing. On the ground in the Pikes Peak region, hundreds of citizen volunteers joined law enforcement searching for the boy. The community clung to hope he would be found alive.
But on March 2, 2020, five weeks to the day after she reported her stepson missing, Stauch was arrested in South Carolina for his murder and was extradited back to Colorado three days later. During her trip back to El Paso County, Stauch allegedly slipped out of her handcuffs in the back of her transport vehicle and attacked a deputy.
Gannon’s remains were found in a suitcase under a highway in Florida a couple of weeks after his stepmother’s arrest. He had been brutally harmed before his death, according to investigators.
Stauch’s arrest affidavit, which includes more details on the case, can be found here.
11 News’ original coverage on the case (January 2020-March 2020) can be found here.
A timeline on the case can be viewed here.
Stauch originally pleaded not guilty in the death of her stepson, then changed her plea in February 2022 to not guilty by reason of insanity, a few short months after a judge ruled there was sufficient evidence against her to move the case to trial. Her new plea stalled the case further, as any insanity plea requires the state to conduct a mental health evaluation, and the case can’t move forward until one is completed. Again and again in the following months, court would convene to discuss the results, and the judge would be told more time was needed.
Ultimately Stauch would undergo two evaluations, with the first finding her sane. The defense requested and were ultimately granted a second evaluation conducted by its own experts; while the results of that evaluation were still pending, a trial date was set last October.
According to our news partners The Gazette, who have one of two allotted media seats in the courtroom for jury selection, the defense announced the results of that evaluation Tuesday. Records indicate that the court itself received the results just four days before jury selection began, and that the matter had been a point of contention for the prosecution, which had wanted the report at the pre-trial readiness conference in early March.
The report was conducted by Dr. Dorothy Lewis, who is a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University, the author of several books on the topic of the insanity plea and the subject of the documentary “Crazy, Not Insane.”
Her report found Stauch was insane and “in a psychotic state” at the time of Gannon’s murder.
Opening statements are currently slated to begin on April 3.
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