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‘I don’t think she knows what happened,’ psychiatrist testifies in murder trial of Letecia Stauch

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- Weeks into the murder trial for Letecia Stauch, the El Paso County woman accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson Gannon Stauch, the prosecution has rested its case. Now, it's the defense's turn.

Tuesday, the defense called on two medical professionals who evaluated Stauch, psychiatrist Dr. Dorothy Lewis and clinical psychologist Dr. Ronda Niederhauser.

Lewis testified that she evaluated Stauch as appearing to have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

The defense called on Lewis to professionally evaluate Stauch to determine her mental state. As part of that evaluation, Lewis said she interviewed Stauch for fourteen hours, consulted with social workers, and investigators, and poured through countless documents to come to her conclusion.

While on the stand, the defense established Lewis' credibility as an expert.

Lewis explained that she has degrees from Harvard University and the Yale School of Medicine, in addition to completing a fellowship with Yale and various research programs.

Lewis published a book in 1998 titled "Guilty by Reason of Insanity" and starred in an HBO documentary recapping her career called "Crazy, Not Insane."

In her testimony, Lewis claimed that Stauch seemed to shift into different personas as they would communicate, and upon reflection, Lewis does not believe Stauch actually knows what really happened to Gannon.

Lewis explained that when she would talk to Stauch, sometimes Stauch would identify as "Maria."

However, the defense's first witness, Clinical Psychologist Dr. Ronda Niederhauser, said she believes Stauch was suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder - but that she wasn't psychotic.

In her witness testimony, Niederhauser said she saw Stauch for appointments twice in December 2019, after Stauch came to her saying she was struggling with anxiety.

According to Niederhauser, Stauch said she was experiencing anxiety related to her teaching job and alleged harassment at the school where she worked.

Niederhauser testified that she determined Stauch was suffering from "generalized anxiety disorder" at the Dec. 5, 2019, appointment, and said she told Stauch to come back the next week on Dec. 13 for a follow-up appointment, as she traditionally does with her clients.

At the Dec. 13, 2019 appointment, Niederhauser said her findings were consistent with what she observed last. She found that Letecia had generalized anxiety disorder, but she did not observe any severe mental health issues or signs that Stauch was psychotic.

"If I had any concerns that she was a danger to herself, a danger to someone else, or she was gravely disabled, which means she was psychotic or so severely depressed that she wasn't functioning, then I would have placed her on a 72-hour hold and sent her to a psych hospital," said Niederhauser.

Stauch's defense doesn't deny that she killed her stepson, instead, they argue that she's not guilty by reason of insanity.

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Annabelle Childers

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