Gannon Stauch case: Letecia Stauch to undergo mental competency evaluation

A judge on Friday granted a defense motion for a competency evaluation for Letecia Stauch, the stepmother charged in the slaying of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch, a move likely to introduce weeks of delays in the case against her.

The order by 4th Judicial District Judge Gregory Werner came at a hearing where prosecutors announced that remains found in Florida were confirmed by an expert as belonging to Gannon.

“It is Gannon,” lead prosecutor Michael Allen said, adding that further study was expected on a molar obtained by the prosecution.

A Florida medical examiner handling the autopsy tentatively has identified the remains as Gannon’s. However, the autopsy is not yet complete, Allen said.

The judge’s competency ruling essentially halts further prosecution of Letecia Stauch, 36, until the judge determines whether she is mentally fit to be tried. She is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in Gannon’s killing.

The evaluation will be conducted at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo. The judge said it was likely to take about 90 days to complete, but prosecutors suggested an expedited evaluation could be done sooner.

Werner scheduled a Sept. 8 hearing to receive the state’s competency report. If the report is done sooner, it would be distributed by the court to attorneys on both sides.

Wearing a standard orange jail jumpsuit with her hands cuffed behind her back, Letecia Stauch spoke just once to acknowledge that she had been advised by her attorneys about the effect of their competency challenge, answering, “Yes, your honor.” She sat with her head tilted downward, letting her long dark hair hide her face from the gallery.

The ruling came at a status hearing meant to determine the next steps in the case against her.

During the brief proceedings, prosecutors also filed a new charge against Letecia Stauch, solicitation to commit escape, alleging that she offered to pay a fellow inmate up to $75,000 to help her escape from the El Paso County jail.

Al Stauch, Gannon’s father, sat in the gallery for the hearing while three other relatives monitored the proceeding via online video. Al Stauch was on a military assignment when his son was reported missing Jan. 27 by Letecia Stauch. He filed for divorce after his then-wife became a suspect in his son’s murder. Three other relatives monitored the proceedings via video link, the judge said.

Gannon’s remains were found March 18 in Santa Rosa County on the Florida panhandle, east of Pensacola, authorities said.

Investigators believe the boy was killed with a knife or other weapon while lying on his bed in his basement bedroom, likely on the day he was reported missing, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said in an arrest affidavit.

Editor’s note: This story was provided by the Colorado Springs Gazette, per a judge’s orders for shared media coverage. The Gazette reporter was the designated print media representative allowed in the courtroom.

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