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Bridge worker in allegedly murderous stepmom trial describes finding 11-year-old victim in suitcase

Gannon Stauch and Letecia Stauch. (Image of Gannon via El Paso County Sheriff's Office; image of Stauch via Law&Crime Network)

Gannon Stauch and Letecia Stauch. (Image of Gannon via El Paso County Sheriff’s Office; image of Stauch via Law&Crime Network)

Bridge inspector Macon Ponder testified about tragically finding a slain 11-year-old boy in a suitcase in Pensacola, Florida. As the authorities soon determined, the victim was Gannon Stauch from Colorado.

In their work to undermine an insanity defense, prosecutors are using this and other testimony to show that the child’s stepmother, Letecia Stauch, 39, knew what she was doing when she allegedly stabbed and shot the child to death and hid evidence while keeping investigators and her then-husband in the dark about the boy’s whereabouts. She went as far as to allegedly stuff Gannon’s body in a suitcase and drive all the way to Pensacola, where she dumped the suitcase over the railing of a bridge. District Attorney Michael Allen of the 4th Judicial District told jurors on Monday that she hoped this would land in a river leading into the Gulf of Mexico.

Ponder testified on Wednesday that as soon as he unzipped the suitcase — but before opening it —  he and a colleague immediately noticed the smell during this March 17, 2020, incident. He remembered looking up at the co-worker and saying he thought there was something dead in there. It was not uncommon for them to come across something like a discarded litter of puppies.

“But it was so strong,” he said. “It was different that day.”

When they finally unzipped the rest of it, the smell was so overpowering they took a step back.

“And the first thing I remember seeing was just two little feet that had little football socks on them,” Ponder said. “The best I remember, I remember there being little socks on them.”

Before anything else happened, and they couldn’t really make out what it was, his colleague tipped over the suitcase.

“And of course we immediately knew it was a body,” Ponder said, adding they could not immediately tell if the victim was male or female. “And then I turned away.”

There were “lots of blankets,” and perhaps a pillow in the suitcase from his recollection. The body was in a fetal position and partially wrapped up, he said. The suitcase was too big to be a carry-on bag, but roughly the size of “an older checked-bag suitcase.”

Letecia Stauch stabbed her stepson, Gannon, 18 times and shot him in the head on Jan. 27, 2020, while the boy’s father, Al Stauch, was out of town for National Guard work, authorities said.

As heard on audio recordings, Al Stauch confronted Letecia Stauch about his son’s whereabouts during the missing person case. The couple has since divorced.

The defense maintains that Letecia Stauch lived with dissociative identity disorder and experienced both physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her mother’s lovers while growing up.

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