Jury convicts Leticia Stauch of stepson Gannon’s murder
Jurors found a Colorado woman guilty of murder Death of her 11-year-old stepson Monday, rejecting her claim that he was insane when he attacked her.
Leticia Stauch was found guilty of all charges she faced The Assassination of Gannon Stouch, over three years, prosecutors say he stabbed Gannon 18 times before hitting him in the head and then shooting him once. Prosecutors claimed Stauch killed the boy in January 2020 because he hated him and wanted to hurt his father, Al Stauch, whom he planned to leave and the National Guard was deployed at the time.
Stauch has not denied killing Gannon and transporting her body across the country in a suitcase in the back of a rented van. But he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The defense argued that he killed Gannon during a “psychotic break” brought on by trauma from childhood physical, emotional and sexual abuse.
Experts at the state psychiatric hospital concluded that Stauch had a personality disorder with borderline and narcissistic traits but was sane at the time of Gannon’s murder. Under Colorado law, that means knowing the difference between right and wrong and being able to form an intent to commit a crime.
Chief defense witness, Dr. Dorothy Lewis, author of the book “Crazy, Not Insane” and featured in an HBO documentary with the same title, concluded that Stauch suffered from dissociative identity disorder — when someone has two or more personality traumas — and was not sane when he killed Gannon.
Prosecutors, however, noted that Lewis did not know how conscience is defined under Colorado law.
In the weeks before Gannon’s murder, Stauch was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder after being referred to a psychologist while being treated at a military health clinic. Therapist Rhonda Niederhauser testified that Stauch showed no signs of being a threat to himself or others and was aware of his surroundings.
Authorities believe Stauch killed Gannon in her bedroom hours before she disappeared on January 27, 2020, saying she had not come home to play with friends. Dozens of volunteers helped search for the boy in the neighborhood near Colorado Springs where the family lived. However, investigators later revealed that Stauch concocted a variety of stories to mislead them, including that a man hired to repair a carpet raped him and then kidnapped Gannon.
After Al Stauch became suspicious of his wife, she allowed the FBI to listen to her phone calls with Stauch, trying to get more information from her about where Gannon was. Hours of audio of those calls, along with video recordings of interviews with Stauch about his mental health, were a prominent part of the evidence offered during the five-week trial.
Bridge inspectors found Gannon’s remains in March 2020 inside a suitcase under a bridge in the Florida Panhandle. Prosecutors suggested that Stauch broke out of a hotel room where he was staying with his daughter in Pensacola, expecting her body to wash up in the Gulf of Mexico in the middle of the night.
Stauch was convicted after a trial of first-degree murder, first-degree murder of a child by a person in a position of trust, tampering with a dead human body and tampering with physical evidence.
He sat between his two lawyers at the defense table and showed no reaction as the verdict was read. Later, while everyone is talking around the court, he sits there alone and sips water.