Prosecutors on Thursday alleged with DNA evidence and law enforcement testimony that Letecia Stauch murdered her stepson Gannon Stauch.
The El Paso County woman is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon, and faces charges including first-degree murder. During Thursday's preliminary hearing, prosecutors, including District Attorney Michael Allen, laid out evidence for the case.
- Back from recess, Sgt. Rosario Hubbell with the El Paso County Sherriff is on the stand. He's testifying that Stauch took two photos of Gannon asleep in bed on the morning he went missing.
- Blankets and the pillow on the bed in the photos appear to match bedding found with Gannon's body in Florida, Hubbell testified.
- Investigators found evidence of blood splatter marks on the wall next to Gannon's bed, Hubbell said. In the corner of the room there was a stain that had been cleaned, but the stain went through the carpet onto the cement below. The stain was Gannon's blood, Hubbell said.
- Law enforcement tested a stain on Gannon's mattress. The test revealed the stain was caused by Gannon's blood.
- Investigators found a handgun that had Stauch's DNA on it on top of a dresser in the master bedroom she slept in, Hubbell testified.
- A firearms expert believed the gun found on the nightstand was used to shoot Gannon because the bullet found in his head was consistent with the ammunition used in the weapon, Hubbell said.
- During cross examination, Hubbell said there were two male DNA matches on the gun in addition to Stauch's.
- Defense attorneys drew attention to possible contamination of the alleged crime scene when Hubbell touched some of the carpet in the room with his ungloved hand. Hubbell said he reported the contamination because it could affect DNA testing.
- Andrew Cohen of the FBI is now on the stand. He testified that only Stauch was home when Gannon is believed to have died.
- During cross examination, defense attorney Josh Tolini is seeking to cast doubt on Stauch's involvement. He said the back door of the house was opened and closed 10 times around the time Gannon died. Cohen says he does not know who came in and out of the door.
SUMMARY OF MORNING TESTIMONY
Prosecutors on Thursday alleged with DNA evidence and law enforcement testimony that an El Paso County woman murdered her stepson.
Letecia Stauch is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon, and faces charges including first-degree murder. During Thursday's hearing, prosecutors, including District Attorney Michael Allen, laid out evidence for the case.
The court heard testimony from multiple law enforcement officials who said Gannon's blood was discovered on and near his bed, Stauch's DNA was found on a weapon linked to the death and Stauch traveled to an area near where Gannon's body was later discovered.
Fourth Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner ruled that Stauch will continue to be held without bail at least until a Sept. 23 hearing related to accusations she tried to escape from jail.
A Florida medical examiner determined Gannon had a gunshot wound to his jaw, a skull fracture, a stab wound in his back and another in his chest, said Sgt. Jason Yoder of the Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office in Florida.
A bullet was found in Gannon's head and two more were recovered from his pillowcase, investigators said. A weapons expert determined those bullets matched the type of ammunition used in a gun found on the nightstand in Stauch's bedroom, Sgt. Rosario Hubbell of the El Paso County Sheriff's office said. The gun had Stauch's DNA on it, but also the DNA of at least two other people, Hubbell said.
On the morning investigators believe Gannon was killed, Stauch took two photos of him lying in bed, Hubbell said. The bedding in those photos appears to be the same as bedding found with Gannon's body when it was recovered from inside a suitcase that appeared to have been thrown off a Florida bridge, investigators said.
Investigators discovered a blood stain on Gannon's bed, blood spatter on the wall nearby and a large blood stain on the floor, Hubbell said. The carpet itself appeared to have been cleaned, he said, but the concrete underneath the carpet was stained. DNA analysis conducted on the blood samples linked them to Gannon, he said. Some of Gannon's blood was also found on Stauch's shoe.
Another law enforcement official, Kevin Clark, walked through location data that showed Leticia Stauch drove to Florida shortly after Gannon went missing and stayed in a hotel just 3 miles from where the body was found.
Further location data led Colorado investigators to an area off of Highway 105 north of Palmer Lake, where Stauch appeared to have parked her car on multiple occasions. In that area, investigators found a board with blood on it that they determined belonged to Gannon, said El Paso County Sheriff's Office Deputy John Sarkisian.
A red liquid was found on the floor of the garage at the home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood of El Paso County where Stauch and Gannon lived, said Sgt. Patrick Younkin with the El Paso County Sheriff's office. Younkin said he did not see evidence of violence in Gannon's bedroom.
Defense attorneys sought to create doubt that Stauch committed the murder by suggesting that someone else could have entered the home around the time Gannon died, and sought to tie home security data with the unknown DNA on the gun investigators found.
But FBI agent Andrew Cohen testified that Stauch was the only person investigators believe could have committed the murder.
“I haven't seen any evidence of anyone else coming into the house,” Cohen said.
The search for Gannon turned up evidence indicating he was attacked with a knife or other weapon while in bed, authorities previously said. Stauch, who had publicly denied involvement in the boy's disappearance, was arrested last year in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Thursday's hearing had been delayed on multiple occasions, as Stauch moved to defend herself in court. A judge later appointed a defense attorney to represent her. The trial was further delayed by two competency evaluations, which ultimately determined Stauch was fit to stand trial.
Stauch was not present in the courtroom Thursday. She waived her right to appear in court after a back-and-forth with Judge Gregory Werner. "I have confidence in my defense counsel," she said via a video feed from El Paso County jail.