(EL PASO COUNTY, Colo.) — Both the prosecution and defense have rested and the jury is now in deliberation starting Friday, May 5, for the murder trial of an El Paso County woman accused of killing her stepson.

Closing arguments were made against Letecia Stauch, who allegedly murdered 11-year-old Gannon, stuffing him into a suitcase and dumping his body under a bridge in Florida in early 2020.

Stauch faces the following charges:

  • First-Degree Murder
  • Child Abuse Resulting in Death
  • Tampering with a Deceased Human Body
  • Tampering with Physical Evidence

The jury failed to reach a verdict after Friday’s closing statements. Deliberations will continue into next week beginning Monday, May 8, according to Colorado Courts.

Prosecution’s closing statements

In Friday’s closing statements, the prosecution emphasized the trial had focused more on Stauch, rather than Gannon.

“This is what the trial should be about,” stated Prosecutor Dave Young, as he pointed to a framed portrait of Gannon.

Gannon’s autopsy and extent of injuries – 18 stab wounds, a fractured skull from four blunt force traumas, and a gunshot to the jaw – was used to argue Stauch was mentally competent and acted with intent when she killed her stepson.

“What does that tell you? Use your common sense. It’s not psychotic. It’s just strategic,” stated Young.

Young said Stauch strategically stabbed Gannon then used “judgment and reflection,” to get another weapon and “completely obliterated the skull” after hitting Gannon four separate times.

“[That] wasn’t good enough for her,” Young said. ” So… she goes and gets a handgun. She fires that handgun three times.”

According to Young, Gannon tried to fight off Stauch despite being lethargic from being drugged with hydrocodone.

During the prosecution’s closing argument, Young tried to debunk claims of Stauch’s dissociative identity disorder (DID) by citing an expert medical witness who said Stauch does not have a history of inpatient psychiatric treatment or any diagnosis for mental illnesses.

Another expert witness, Dr. Loandra Torres, testified, “… there is no credible evidence to conclude she has a condition that conforms to the definition of a mental disease or defect.”

Young also mentioned Stauch’s first competency evaluation in July 2020, when she went to a nurse and asked, “Can you tell when someone’s faking it?”

To charge Stauch, the prosecution must prove she “knowingly” and “with intent,” killed Gannon “after deliberation.” Young concluded the prosecution’s closing statements by arguing the elements to charge Stauch are indisputable.

Defense’s rebuttal

Defense Attorney, Josh Tolini, described Stauch as a loving stepmother who was an elementary teacher for special needs children.

Tolini said Gannon’s murder was not premeditated, but a result of a psychotic break. Stauch’s defense said Al, Stauch’s then-husband, felt comfortable leaving his children with her alone while he was away.

“…mental illness from her past got triggered and there was a temporary period of psychosis,” said Tolini referencing trauma Stauch suffered growing up at the hands of an abusive stepfather.

Stauch’s defense also claimed psychosis and mania were the only rational explanations for her actions because “there is nothing else they can come up [with] as far as motive,” and the “brutal, horrific rage” used to end Gannon’s life was a result of the psychosis.

“That type of violence wouldn’t be needed to kill an 11-year-old boy,” said Tolini.

The defense’s expert witness testimony from Dr. Dorothy Lewis was used to convince the jury Stauch was “irrational,” committing “the actions of somebody who is delusional.” According to Dr. Lewis, Stauch was one of the most mentally ill people she’s ever dealt with and affirmed Stauch more than likely disassociated the memory of the homicide.

“… accepting the idea that she committed this brutal, horrible homicide in the manner that was done, smashing that 11-year-old’s head in… to accept that fact in her mind would crush her, would crush her soul, would crush her identity,” said Tolini.

Stauch’s multiple accounts and different versions of stories told to authorities regarding the disappearance of Gannon were “delusional fantasies” used to cope with the truth because “she couldn’t bear to deal with it,” said Tolini.

“… it was her, but she was not in her right mind when she did it,” claimed Tolini. “Mentally healthy, normal people don’t one day go on a hike, take smiling photos, and the next day stab a kid 18 times for no apparent reason.”

The defense concluded by asking the jury to find Stauch not guilty by reason of insanity.

“We’re not saying to free her. We’re not saying let her go. We’re not saying don’t hold her responsible. We’re saying for you to take into account the mental illness that she suffered…” said Tolini.

Prosecution’s rebuttal

  • Justice for Gannon Stauch: Timeline to trial
  • Justice for Gannon Stauch: Timeline to trial
  • Justice for Gannon Stauch: Timeline to trial

4th Judicial District Attorney, Michael Allen, took the stand and said, “We don’t have to prove motive. And yet we did anyway. This defendant hated Gannon.”

Internet searches showed Stauch had typed “I hate my stepson.”

According to Allen, Stauch wanted out of her marriage with Al, who did in fact trust her enough to leave Gannon in her care. Al, along with Stauch’s close family, never noticed signs of psychosis.

“Does it ever truly make sense when a parent kills their child? The answer is no. That doesn’t make it a psychotic act. That doesn’t make that person insane,” said Allen who also claimed the brutality of Gannon’s murder points to hatred, not a mental break.

Allen said Stauch knew, “Gannon was done,” the day she allegedly planned to kill him, which is why she called him out of school and texted her husband “proof of life pictures” of going on a hike and of Gannon in his bed.

Another piece of evidence used to accuse Stauch of premeditation was her use of hydrocodone, “a prescription for full-grown men” and an opioid, to apparently drug Gannon to make him lethargic.

Allen said Stauch’s case was the biggest El Paso County has ever seen due to her countless “fantastic stories,” that manipulated the investigation.

Allen told the jury Stauch was calculating and lied to everyone to deflect the blame and make herself the victim. “Telling stories is not psychosis. It’s who she is,” stated Allen.

“[Gannon] deserved to live. He deserved to grow up and become a young man and someday have a family of his own. She took it all away,” Allen said.