The woman charged with murdering her young stepson and dumping his remains across the country is now pursuing an insanity defense. Letecia Stauch of El Paso County, Colorado, changed her plea on Friday, according to local outlets. This development possibly upends the original March 28 start date of her trial.
Judge Gregory Werner scheduled a status hearing to take place on March 17 to see whether both sides need more time. Stauch is expected to get an expert evaluation. The decision to go with an insanity defense follows weeks after the judge denied the defense motions to suppress wiretap evidence, security system data tracking showing motion in the home, and the contents of her cellphone.
Friction with law enforcement and even her own attorneys has marked the case, in which Stauch allegedly attacked her stepson Gannon Stauch, 11, in his bedroom on Jan. 27, 2020.
The defense requested a bench trial, citing pretrial publicity. They don’t think they would get a fair shake from jurors. Judge Werner declined Friday to make a decision about a bench trial immediately, instead giving Stauch more time to consider the situation with her lawyers.
“Your only going to get my viewpoint. I’m not swayed by motions or by the press. You’re only going to get my viewpoint,” Judge Werner says in regards to a bench trial. No decision today, he thinks it’s premature, letting #LeteciaStauch think about it more with attorneys.
— Lauren Scharf (@LaurenScharfTV) February 11, 2022
Gannon Stauch’s father was out of town for the National Guard during the attack, authorities said. Defendant Stauch hid the body and played off the disappearance as if Gannon went missing while going out to a friend’s home, cops have said. Officials all the way over in Santa Rosa County, Florida, said Gannon’s body was found in a suitcase under a bridge near Pensacola. He had been shot and stabbed, an investigator testified.
Since her arrest in Horry County, South Carolina, Letecia Stauch has been charged with slipping out of her handcuffs and attacking a deputy, and plotting to break out of jail. She briefly tried to represent herself in her murder case. Her defense had voiced concerns about her mental competency to face the case, though she was ultimately found able to do so.
In a letter dated Feb. 21, 2021, Letecia Stauch asserted her innocence, and made unsubstantiated claims against the prosecution. For example, she asserted the doctor who evaluated her for her mental competency was actually an actress.
“I asked them to use the info from a non-biased doctor (who worked with me more than 2 hours) but instead they sent a lady who was clearly an actress and friends with the D.A.,” she wrote. “She spoke about him in an unprofessional manner, their history, and his election. Now I’m sure all this was true but I thought she worked for the court, not one particular side. My attorneys did this to make me look like a perjurious individual.”
Stauch acknowledged living with mental illness, or as she put it, “bouts of insanity,” but she asserted that she had to represent herself because her defense and the prosecution were working against her.
Update – 6:27 pm: We added reference to Judge Werner denying defense motions suppress evidence.
[Booking photo of Letecia Stauch and picture of Gannon Stauch via El Paso County Sheriff’s Office]
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