‘I feel manipulated,’ daughter says at mother’s murder trial

Apr 17, 2023, 4:53 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

DENVER (AP) — The daughter of a woman accused of killing her stepson in Colorado, putting his body in a suitcase and dumping it off a bridge in Florida said Monday that she never suspected his body was in the van they drove in together across the country.

Testifying at Letecia Stauch’s murder trial in Colorado Springs, Harley Hunt said it never crossed her mind that her mother was transporting the body of 11-year-old Gannon Stauch in a suitcase in their rented van after killing him, as prosecutors allege.

“I’m still in shock. I defended her for years. I just feel manipulated and lied to,” Hunt said.

When pressed by the defense, Hunt said she never looked in the back of the van where their luggage was as they traveled through Texas and Louisiana on their way to Florida and then South Carolina in February 2020. She said she never smelled anything unusual. But Hunt also said her mother insisted on keeping the air conditioning on even when she complained of being too cold.

Prosecutors say Letecia Stauch stabbed Gannon 18 times and shot him before reporting him missing in January 2020 while her then-husband and Gannon’s father, Albert Stauch, was away at a National Guard training. While the search for the boy continued, Letecia Stauch and her daughter, who was 17 at the time, left in a rented van with a vague plan to start a new life somewhere else.

Gannon’s remains were found by bridge inspectors in March 2020, in a suitcase under a bridge on the Florida Panhandle. Prosecutors suggested that Stauch snuck out from a hotel room where she was staying with her daughter in Pensacola to dispose of his body in the middle of the night. In answer to a question from the jury, Hunt said she did not remember if their van was parked in a different spot when they went to leave the hotel the following morning.

Stauch is charged with first-degree murder, tampering with a deceased human body and tampering with physical evidence. She has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The defense claimed she suffered a “major psychotic crack” as a result of childhood trauma when she killed Gannon. But prosecutors have been stressing during the trial that she did know right from wrong, a key element they must prove to defeat the insanity defense. They have been steadily asking witnesses like Hunt whether they thought Stauch was able to make decisions and plans.

Hunt testified that her mother booked their hotel rooms for one person, asking her daughter to sneak in on her own with their dogs so she did not have to pay for them, and that she requested a Ford Motor Company corporate discount because a relative worked for the company.

In answer to defense questions, Hunt acknowledged that she had sometimes found her mother crying in the closet while she was growing up.

Also, when Letecia Stauch was unhappily living with her then-husband and blended family in Alaska, where Albert Stauch was stationed, Hunt said her mother implied she was going to kill herself. Hunt said her mother told her to come have “your last dinner with me” and that she had already taken something to make that happen. But Hunt testified that nothing happened to her mother and they never spoke about it again.

United States News

FILE - Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks at an ...

Associated Press

Carter and the Kings: A friendship and alliance — but after MLK’s assassination

ATLANTA (AP) — The voice of Martin Luther King Sr., a melodic tenor like his slain son, carried across Madison Square Garden, calming the raucous Democrats who had nominated his friend and fellow Georgian for the presidency. “Surely, the Lord sent Jimmy Carter to come on out and bring America back where she belongs,” the […]

22 hours ago

Last seasons plant stalks are seen at Seth Jacobs' marijuana planting field at his Slack Hollow far...

Associated Press

Slow start to New York’s legal pot market leaves farmers holding the bag

ARGYLE, N.Y. (AP) — Seth Jacobs has about 100 bins packed with marijuana flower sitting in storage at his upstate New York farm. And that’s a problem. There aren’t enough places to sell it. The 700 pounds (318 kilograms) of pungent flower was harvested last year as part of New York’s first crop of legally […]

22 hours ago

FILE - Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions con...

Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans look for rebound, Democrats stay on offensive as 2024 fights loom

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin once again be a battleground. Democrats, recognizing that four of the past six presidential elections in the state have been decided by less than a percentage point, are trying not to become overconfident in the face of recent gains. They are gathering for their annual state convention starting June 10 […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan wildfire prompts evacuations, threatens multiple buildings

GRAYLING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A wildfire in Michigan burned more than 1,000 acres (1.5 square miles) and prompted emergency evacuations and road closures Saturday, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The wildfire located within Grayling Township, about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Grayling, is moving west and southwest and threatens multiple […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

16 South American migrants who entered US through Texas flown to California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sixteen Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who entered the country through Texas were flown to California by chartered plane and dropped off outside a church in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom and migrant rights advocates said Saturday. The young men and women were dropped off Friday outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

Florida woman charged with child neglect after her car catches fire as she was allegedly shoplifting

OVIEDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman faces charges of aggravated child neglect and arson after her car became engulfed in flames while she was allegedly shoplifting at a mall, according to an arrest report. Alicia Moore, 24, parked her car in a parking lot outside a Dillard’s department store at Oviedo Mall on May […]

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]



Why drug-free weight loss still matters

Wanting to lose weight is a common goal for many people as they progress throughout life, but choosing between a holistic approach or to take medicine can be a tough decision.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

‘I feel manipulated,’ daughter says at mother’s murder trial