The jury started deliberations Friday afternoon in the trial against Letecia Stauch, who is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, more than three years ago.
After five weeks of trial the attorneys in the case gave their closing arguments, where the key focus for both the prosecution and the defense was the sanity of Stauch. Following the end of rebuttal 12 jurors were sent to begin deliberations, and after four hours of deliberation the jury was sent home for the day at around 5 pm Deliberations will resume on Monday morning.
Prosecutors Dave Young and Michael Allen spoke heavily about how Stauch’s actions weren’t those of someone suffering from psychosis, but rather those of a manipulative person who did not suffer from any severe mental illness.
“It’s not psychotic, it’s strategic,” Young said. “If you lose your temper, you don’t get to claim insanity … we’re humans, we have emotions.”
Stauch is accused of killing Gannon on Jan. 27, 2020, at their home in the Lorson Ranch neighborhood southeast of Colorado Springs in unincorporated El Paso County.
Stauch faces four charges:
– two counts of first-degree murder
– one count of tampering with a dead human body
– one count of tampering with physical evidence
“Everything this woman did in her life was manipulation, to cause chaos and make herself the victim,” Allen said during the prosecution’s rebuttal. “That’s who she is, she’s a story teller. Telling stories is not a sign of psychosis, it’s who she is.”
Defense attorney Josh Tolini argued the opposite, that the actions taken by Stauch weren’t those of a manipulative liar, but rather a very mentally ill woman who was suffering from psychoses and had a “psychotic break.”
“These are not the actions of a sane, rational person,” Tolini said. “She is freaking out, and she is delusional.”
Tolini started his closing arguments by stating that the prosecution never proved a motive, which opens the door to only “two explanations” of the crime — that Stauch was suffering from dissociative identity disorder, or she has anti-social personality disorder, something Young claimed Stauch may have several times during the prosecution’s closing arguments.
“Here’s what Mr. Young is trying to do, he is trying to introduce antisocial personality disorder into this,” Tolini said.
Tolini argued that the prosecution’s approach was tied to the Colorado law, in which a person can’t be found legally insane if the only disorder they suffer from is that of an antisocial personality disorder. Tolini added that Dr. Loandra Torres, one of the state forensic psychologists who conducted Stauch’s sanity examination, tested that she did not believe Stauch suffered from antisocial personality disorder.
During Allen’s rebuttal, he argued the prosecution had actually proved the motive behind Gannon’s killing, even though the prosecution wasn’t obligated to do so for a conviction under Colorado law.
“She hated Gannon,” Allen said.
Allen also alleged that maybe the reason Stauch hated Gannon so much was because of how much he loved his mother, Landen Hitt.
“She knew she could never replace the love Gannon had for Landen,” Allen said.
Tolini at one point referenced that perhaps the biggest evidence to prove Stauch’s insanity, aside from the testimony of Dr. Dorothy Lewis, was the brutality of Gannon’s death.
In the first week of the trial, Susan Ignacio, a medical examiner from Florida, tested that Gannon was stabbed 18 times and suffered four blunt-force trauma injuries and one gunshot to the head.
“The brutality of the attack is the strongest evidence in this entire case of a psychotic break,” Tolini said. “That is the only thing that makes sense.”
During the rebuttal Allen disputed the claim from Tolini, stating the brutality of the attack showed only one thing: how much the defendants hated Gannon, Al Stauch and Hiott.
“Does the brutality itself prove psychosis from the defendant?” Allen asked the jury. “The brutality speaks to the abject hatred she had for Gannon, and the pure determination she had to kill Gannon.”
Both attorneys also spent a substantial portion of closing arguments discussing the sanity reports, and the experts themselves who conducted them.
Young spent almost half of his closing argument discussing Dr. Lewis, who tested on Tuesday and Wednesday, in an attempt to hurt his credibility.
Young pointed out how Lewis didn’t know the legal definition of insanity in Colorado, how she struggled to answer Young’s questions during cross-examination and made the claim that Lewis only concluded Stauch was insane for a paycheck.
“Money is a strong motivator, having shows on HBO is a strong motivator, having your son film the interview … possibly for another documentary, that’s a strong motivator,” Young said referring to Dr. Lewis and her credibility as a witness in the case.
Tolini in turn spent time defending Lewis, by reinforcing her “groundbreaking” work in the field of psychiatry and claiming that it was “insulting” to insinuate that Lewis only concluded she was insane for a paycheck.
Tolini would go on to speak about the experts who were tested on behalf of the prosecution, pointing out that none of them claimed that Stauch didn’t suffer abuse as a child, and how Torres specifically concluded Stauch had borderline personality disorder and narcistic personality disorder.
“None of the experts you have heard from thinking that there is no mental illness going on here,” Tolini said. “All of that (Stauch’s actions) points to mental illness, and in no way, shape or form have they proved otherwise.”
At no point in Tolini’s closing argument did he argue that Stauch didn’t kill Gannon.
Allen ended the prosecution’s rebuttal by playing the audio of Stauch calling 911 to report Gannon missing on the evening of Jan. 27, 2020, just hours after the prosecution alleges she killed Gannon.
“Who was the last person to see him (Gannon)?” the operator asks. “Uhh. I’m guessing?” Stauch can he heard responding.
“Gannon deserves it (a guilty verdict), he deserves all of the justice you can give him,” Allen said to end the prosecution’s rebuttal.