Letecia Stauch

On Monday, jurors in Colorado found a woman guilty of murder in the death of her 11-year-old stepson, rejecting her claim that she was insane when she attacked him.

Letecia Stauch was convicted of all charges in the death of Gannon Stauch after prosecutors claimed she stabbed him 18 times before hitting him in the head and shooting him once. Prosecutors claimed Stauch murdered the boy in January 2020 because she despised him and wanted to hurt his father, Al Stauch, whom she intended to divorce and who was away on a National Guard deployment at the time.

Stauch did not deny killing Gannon and transporting his body across the country in the back of a rented van in a suitcase. However, she pleaded not guilty due to insanity. The defense claimed she killed Gannon during a “psychotic break” brought on by trauma from being physically, emotionally, and sexually abused as a child.

Stauch had a personality disorder with borderline and narcissistic features, but he was sane at the time Gannon was killed, according to experts at the state mental hospital. That means knowing the difference between right and wrong and having the intent to commit a crime, according to Colorado law.

Dr. Dorothy Lewis, author of the book “Crazy, Not Insane” and star of an HBO documentary of the same name, concluded Stauch suffered from dissociative identity disorder (when someone has two or more personalities as a result of trauma) and was not sane at the time Gannon was killed.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, pointed out that Lewis had no idea how sanity is defined in Colorado law.

Stauch was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in the weeks leading up to Gannon’s murder after being referred to a psychologist while being treated in a military health clinic. Stauch, according to therapist Ronda Niederhauser, did not pose a threat to herself or others and was aware of her surroundings.

Authorities believe Stauch murdered Gannon in his bedroom a few hours before reporting him missing on Jan. 27, 2020, claiming he hadn’t returned home from a night of playing with friends. Dozens of volunteers assisted in the search for the boy in the area surrounding the family’s home near Colorado Springs. Investigators later discovered that Stauch made up a number of stories to mislead them, including that a man she hired to repair a carpet raped her and then kidnapped Gannon.

When Al Stauch became suspicious of his wife, he allowed the FBI to listen in on his phone calls with her in order to elicit more information about Gannon’s whereabouts. Hours of audio from those calls, as well as video recordings of interviews with Stauch about her mental health, were featured prominently in the five-week trial.

Bridge inspectors discovered Gannon’s remains inside a suitcase under a bridge on the Florida Panhandle in March 2020. Prosecutors said Stauch snuck out of a hotel room in Pensacola where she was staying with her daughter in the middle of the night to dispose of his body, hoping it would be swept into the Gulf of Mexico.

Stauch was found guilty of first-degree murder after deliberation, child murder by a person in a position of trust, tampering with a deceased human body, and tampering with physical evidence.

She did not appear to react to the verdict as it was read to her as she sat at the defense table between her two lawyers. Later, as everyone milled around the court, she sat alone, sipping water.

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