Letecia Stauch, the stepmother accused in the killing of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch, has lost her El Paso County jail library privileges, court records show, complicating her bid to effectively represent herself in court.
The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office revoked Stauch’s access to the library for 90 days April 8 after she twice refused to use her scheduled library time, violating the jail’s rules, recent court filings show.
Stauch, 37, also asked that her name be removed from the schedule after her second refusal, sheriff's officials said.
The bulk of the first-degree murder case against her — spanning 26,000 pages — can be accessed only at the jail library, which means the suspension is likely to hamstring her ability to be ready for her preliminary hearing set for May 20 and 21.
During her preliminary hearing, prosecutors will summarize the evidence against her, and a judge must rule if the case against her is strong enough for a trial. The judge will also consider whether she is granted bail until trial.
Stauch is charged with first-degree murder and other counts on allegations that she killed Gannon inside their Lorson Ranch home in January 2020 before dumping his body in a rural area near Highway 105 and South Perry Park Road in Douglas County.
Gannon’s remains were later moved to the Florida panhandle, where they were found in late March 2020 near an interstate north of Pensacola, but authorities have not said how they were moved or by whom. Stauch was arrested about two weeks earlier in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Legal experts previously told The Gazette that people who seek to represent themselves rarely understand the scope of the challenge before them, and may doom their chances at getting an adequate defense. The volume of paper evidence is a particular challenge in the Stauch case, and is likely too much for one person to review, veteran attorneys said.
The library suspension comes after Stauch fought for the ability to fire her court-appointed public defenders and represent herself at trial. In lodging her request, Stauch batted aside warnings from 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner about the complexity of the case against her and said she was more than capable of representing herself.
In February, Werner granted her motion and ruled that core investigative documents — about 1,800 pages worth — be made available in her cell over objections from the sheriff’s office, which cited security concerns. The rest was to be stored digitally at the library, the judge ruled.
Court records show that the sheriff’s office granted Stauch access to the library after she completed a library request form March 5. She refused scheduled visits March 30 and April 2, and six days later, sheriff’s officials removed her from the list, in keeping with their polices and at her request.
Stauch, who remains in custody, could not be reached for comment. Her preliminary hearing remains scheduled for the end of May, court records show.