News organizations ask court to unseal arrest affidavit for stepmother facing murder charge

By Jeffrey A. Roberts
CFOIC Executive Director

A consortium of news organizations Monday asked an El Paso County District Court judge to unseal the affidavit that outlines why authorities arrested Letecia Stauch in the death of her stepson, 11-year-old Gannon Stauch.

A motion filed by media attorney Steve Zansberg notes that Stauch’s lawyer opposes the unsealing of the probable cause affidavit, but the district attorney’s office does not.

“It is the ordinary practice, even in high-profile felony cases, to unseal such affidavits once the warrant(s) have been executed and the People have completed their preliminary investigation and filed charges theron,” wrote Zansberg, who is president of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition.

Letecia Stauch
Letecia Stauch (photo from El Paso County Sheriff’s Office)

“Because the trial in this case – if there is to be a trial – is months away, and there are multiple means to protect the defendant’s fair trial rights, there is no basis for continued denial of the public’s rights to access judicial records that are on file in this Court.”

Stauch, 36, was arrested March 2 and is being held in the El Paso County Jail on charges of first-degree murder of a child under the age of 12 by a person in a position of trust, tampering with a body, tampering with evidence and child abuse resulting in death.

According to The Denver Post,  she told authorities Gannon went to friend’s house on Jan. 27 but never returned. However, a neighbor shared surveillance video that appeared to show Stauch and Gannon leaving home together that morning and Stauch returning alone in the afternoon.

Gannon’s body has not been found, and officials with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office have not released details about why they suspect Stauch.

The news organizations in the consortium are: The Associated Press, Colorado Public Radio, The Gazette, Colorado Springs Independent, The Colorado Sun, The Denver Post, 9NEWS, CBS4, FOX31, Denver7, KOAA News5 and KKTV 11 News. CFOIC and the Colorado Press Association also are involved.

Last week, Judge Gregory Werner issued an order concerning pre-trial publicity in the case “to protect the rights of all parties to a fair trial by an impartial jury as guaranteed by the Colorado and United States Constitutions.”

He directed all parties not to make out-of-court statements except regarding information contained in public records that aren’t under seal and information disclosed during open court proceedings.

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