Frustration mounts as mental health evaluation still isn’t complete for accused child killer Letecia Stauch
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- The woman accused of murdering her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, in January of 2020 is claiming that she wasn't sane at the time of the crimes. Five months after making that claim to a judge, Letecia Stauch's mental health evaluation still is not complete amid a major backup at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo.
The judge and attorneys from both sides expressed their frustration about the delay in court Thursday, with Judge Gregory Werner saying there wasn't anything he could do to move this process along.
Stauch refused to be transported from the jail for her court appearance Thursday, and once again did not face the judge or Gannon's family in court. This follows a pattern of requesting to stay at the jail "due to her mental health" and the stress she might go through if she did appear in court. The judge did say in court Thursday that he was planning to require her to appear until he found the report wasn't ready yet.
She pleaded "not guilty by reason of insanity" back in February of 2022, following a series of legal delays triggered largely by Stauch herself. She was evaluated two separate times by doctors trying to determine if she was competent, she was found competent both times, meaning doctors believe she is capable of understanding the court proceedings and assisting her legal team in her defense.
She also attempted to represent herself back in early 2021 and excuse her court-appointed legal team. She eventually changed her mind and requested her representation back, but she wanted new attorneys.
Judge Gregory Werner ultimately appointed a high-profile Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney name Joshua Tolini to represent Stauch.
If those state doctors find that they believe she was sane at the time of the crimes, Stauch's attorneys indicated that she will be evaluated a second time. He's indicated in court that he found an out-of-state expert who believe Stauch was suffering from some type of dissociative disorder at the time of the crimes, and that doctor will reevaluate Stauch to determine if she had the mental capacity to "knowingly" commit any of the crimes she's charged with.
Following that potential evaluation, the 4th Judicial District Attorney's Office can either decide to send her to a mental health facility indefinitely, or they can take her to trial with insanity as her defense.
Tolini indicated in court Thursday that their expert is planning to fly out to Colorado Springs in August to complete her evaluation, so they're hoping to have at least portions of the evaluation back by then. They've requested that CMHIP release whatever they have now before the evaluation is complete, but doctors have yet to release anything. Tolini told Judge Werner Thursday that he's going to file paperwork to request a hearing to allow doctors to explain what's taking so long.
Stauch is accused of brutally murdering her 11-year-old stepson Gannon and then driving his remains to Florida, where investigators believe she dumped his body in a suitcase over the side of a bridge near Pensacola. She initially reported the boy missing, but was arrested weeks later in South Carolina for the killing.
During one of Stauch's court appearances, a Florida law enforcement official who was present at Gannon's autopsy testified to the fact that the boy had been shot in the jaw, stabbed in the chest and back, and had a fractured skull. He also had defensive wounds on his hands and arms, indicating that he tried to fight back before he died. His remains were found in late March of 2020.
As for Stauch's next appearance, Judge Werner said he doesn't want to schedule another one to just have to postpone it if the report still isn't done. So, he will wait until the court has the report and then will schedule a hearing at least two weeks out, to give out-of-town family time to travel to Colorado Springs.
This latest development in court will delay Stauch's trial yet again. Likely, she won't head to trial until 2023.