Everything appears to be on track for the start of Leticia Stauch’s murder trial late next month in El Paso County.
During a hearing Thursday, the court received an update on where the prosecution and defense are in their pre-trial preparations, and there was a discussion regarding jury selection. There was no discussion about a potential change of venue.
Stauch is accused of killing her 11-year-old stepson, Gannon Stauch, in 2020.
As of Thursday, the court does not have a final report from the defense’s sanity expert who interviewed Stauch. There’s an issue with that expert getting documentation from the state hospital in Pueblo to finalize the report, but there appeared to be little concern that it would not be available in the next two weeks.
The jury trial process is expected to start on March 20 with an estimated 2 weeks of jury selection, an expected start of evidence presentation no later than April 3, and about six weeks for the presentation of the case.
Judge Greg Werner said two members of the press, one print and one electronic, will be allowed in the courtroom for jury selection only. Only audio recording will be allowed during this process. As of right now, no cameras will be allowed in the courtroom during the trial.
Werner believes the biggest obstacle in the jury selection process will be jurors claiming hardship for being involved in such a long case, as well as juror concerns about the nature of the case and the age of the victim. Concerns about pre-trial publicity were considered secondary as the court does not expect to find people who have never heard about the case.
Details on what will be on the jury questionnaire are yet to be finalized. The prosecution and defense will discuss how to question a potential juror regarding their opinions on someone pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Those issues should be resolved by Feb. 16.
Werner based his estimates on the jury selection process from prior cases in El Paso County and elsewhere in Colorado. He plans to issue a summons for 75 jurors a day until they have a qualified jury pool of 50 candidates to seat 12 jurors and 6 alternates for the case.
As the judge explained, people’s lives are complicated due to work, personal, health, or other concerns that may preclude them from service, or cause an interruption in their time on a jury.
Civil case filed in federal court
Leticia Stauch has a pending federal lawsuit claiming her First and Eighth Amendment rights were violated in jail. Stauch names a medical service provider and a food service provider, as well as two El Paso County deputies, in the complaint.
Stauch claims she’s been mistreated while in jail because she was not properly given kosher food and that the jail neglected to give her medical care.
Currently, the case is in the initial review period with the court. A judge will decide if the case should be dismissed or if it should proceed.