Leticia Stauch’s trial begins with the death of stepson Gannon Stauch
A Colorado woman knew she stabbed her young stepson 18 times and then shot him in the head before driving across the country to dump a suitcase containing his remains on a bridge in the Florida Panhandle, a prosecutor told jurors Monday. His trial began.
Authorities have charged Leticia Stauch with murder 11-year-old Gannon Stauch in her bedroom hours before she disappeared on January 27, 2020, while her father was on National Guard deployment. They suggested she was unhappy in her marriage and resentful of being treated like an unpaid babysitter.
At trial, prosecutors introduced Gannon Stauch to the jury through a recording of him with Leticia Stauch, in which he is heard answering a question from his stepmother, CBS Colorado The reported recorded conversation took place and was shortly before Gannon Stauch disappeared Missing report In 2020. Leticia Stauch was arrested in South Carolina and charged in the boy’s death weeks later, following an extensive manhunt in multiple counties.
Attorneys for Stauch, who has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, contended that he suffered a “major mental crack” as a result of childhood trauma when he killed Gannon.
In opening statements in Colorado Springs for a trial expected to last several weeks, Stauch offered dual accounts of why he carried out the crime.
“He took Gannon’s bloodied and broken body and the blankets and pillows that were with him and put them in a suitcase,” District Attorney Michael Allen said in his opening statement.
Allen argued that the steps Stauch took to cover up his actions proved that he knew what he did was wrong and therefore sane. He cleaned up the blood in Gannon’s bedroom, moved his body to various locations to hide it before disposing of it “like trash” in a river that flows into the Gulf of Mexico, hoping it would never be found, he said.
Prosecutors said evidence presented during the trial would show that Stauch took deliberate steps to hide his act and told the jury that he was the last person to see him alive. The prosecution said Stauch admitted to a call to authorities in which he reported the boy missing, a recording of which was played for the jury in court, according to CBS Colorado.
“I guess who was the last person to see him,” he can be heard saying in the recording.
(Credit: Stauch Family/El Paso County)
Stauch lied to investigators several times to try to hinder their investigation, changing his account of what happened to Allen Gannon. She claimed that two different men raped her and then kidnapped Gannon, and later, one of those men took Gannon after she was injured in a bike accident.
“All of his actions were purposely designed by him to distance himself from what he did,” Allen said.
But defense attorney Will Cook said the gruesome details highlighted by Allen, including how Gannon was killed and the lack of a motive, Evidence that Stauch was “crazy.” Because it doesn’t mean everything.
“These are all signs and evidence of a mind, a soul that is most fundamentally and deeply broken,” he said.
Cook suggested that Stauch developed dissociative identity disorder as a result of being physically, mentally and sexually abused by partners of his absent mother during his childhood, sometimes sleeping in a car in the driveway to escape the abuse. When he killed Ganon, he wasn’t in his mind, killing his stepson, but “monsters” from his childhood and life, he said.
Based on surveys given to potential jurors, many were skeptical of Stauch’s mental health defense, Cook said. He urged jurors to put aside their urge to pay for such brutal murders and keep an open mind because the justice system requires Stauch to be presumed innocent.
“I’m not telling you to like it. I’m telling you that’s the way it is,” he said.
Initially, authorities said they responded after Stauch said Gannon had not returned from playing with a friend. But he did not name any friends or their parents he may be staying with. Over the course of several days, he made up a variety of stories to mislead them, including raping a man he hired to repair a carpet and then kidnapping Gannon, according to investigators.
More than 200 volunteers searched for the boy in the area near Colorado Springs where the family lived, as authorities investigated. About two weeks after Gannon’s disappearance, searchers found a piece of particle board with Gannon’s blood in a nearby rural area. Presuming the boy was dead, authorities arrested Stauch on March 2, 2022, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Gannon’s remains were found later that month in Pace, a small town in the Florida panhandle.
Stauch was charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a dead human body and tampering with physical evidence.
Investigators found Gannon’s blood on Stauch’s shoes, found his DNA on a gun linked to his death and that he had traveled to the Florida Panhandle shortly after he disappeared, prosecutors said.
Stauch was also charged with attempting to escape from jail after his arrest. According to court documents, he asked a fellow inmate to help him out, explaining that he planned to use a broom handle to break the window in his cell, and that he had already measured himself so he could fit.