EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. — The prosecution and defense gave opening statements Monday in the trial of Letecia Stauch, an El Paso County woman accused of killing her stepson Gannon in 2020.
Gannon Stauch, 11, was reported missing from his Lorson Ranch neighborhood on Jan. 27, 2020, leading to a statewide search for the boy. His remains were found inside a suitcase under a bridge in northwestern Florida in March 2020, about six weeks after Letecia Stauch's trip there.
Letecia Stauch pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in the case. Jury selection of 12 members and six alternates took two weeks.
Stauch faces numerous charges, including:
- First-degree murder after deliberation
- First-degree murder of a person under 12 by someone in a position of trust
- Tampering with a deceased human body
- Tampering with physical evidence
- Seven counts of a crime of violence for using a weapon (the weapons listed in the complaint include a firearm, blunt object and sharp object)
- One count of crime of violence – causing severe bodily injury or death
A previous child abuse causing death charge was dismissed Monday.
Fourth Judicial District Attorney Michael Allen started off by telling jurors, "Evidence in this case will show that she could determine right from wrong."
Allen said Letecia Stauch attacked Gannon "viciously, deliberately."
Allen said Gannon's autopsy showed that he suffered 18 stab wounds to his stomach, back and head, and had defensive wounds on his hands and arms.
Letecia Stauch then grabbed a heavy object and hit Gannon in his head, Allen said. She then grabbed a handgun and fired three times at Gannon, striking him once in the head, the DA said.
"She gathered his bloody and broken body and stuffed him into a suitcase, and stored his body in the basement storage room," Allen said.
The DA said Stauch then took the suitcase containing Gannon's body, put it in a rented vehicle and took it with her as she traveled back to her hometown in South Carolina. Stauch threw the suitcase off a bridge in northwestern Florida, the DA said. A bridge worker found Gannon's body about six weeks later.
During the defense's opening statements, Stauch's attorney Will Cook said the crime itself was awful, but that his client wasn't in her right mind when the attack happened.
"This will come down to insanity," Cook said.
Cook then detailed traumas and abuse Stauch suffered during her childhood.
"She witnessed her mother get abused until eventually the abuse her mother endured was transferred onto her," Cook said. "It started as physical beatings and turned into sexual assault later."
Opening statements began just after 1:30 p.m. Monday. Both sides wrapped just before 3 p.m.
The trial is expected to last at least six weeks.
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