Louisiana man sentenced to life in murder of Bourbon St. dancer

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 09, 2015 11:56 AM

By Kathy Finn

NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) - A Louisiana man convicted of murdering a Bourbon Street dancer and dismembering her body in 2012 will spend the rest of his life in prison, a state court judge said on Thursday.

Judge Stephen Grefer imposed the mandatory life sentence on Terry Speaks, 42, after denying Speaks' motion for a new trial, the judge's law clerk, Suzanne Ciaccio, said.

Speaks filed the new trial request on Monday, arguing the judge had not asked him about his mental health before allowing him to represent himself at trial.

Speaks, who claims he once tried to kill himself and was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder, clumsily handled his own defense through one day of jury selection and opening statements before asking that his court-appointed public defender step back in.

The four-day trial featured grisly evidence, including photos of slain dancer Jaren Lockhart's body parts.

Prosecutors said Speaks and his then-girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, went to Temptations Gentlemen's Club in New Orleans' French Quarter on June 6, 2012, and offered Lockhart, 22, hundreds of dollars to go with them to a private party.

Speaks and Sanchez took Lockhart to their home in nearby Kenner, Louisiana, stabbed her to death and cut up her body, prosecutors said, and then drove to Mississippi and threw her remains off a bridge near the Gulf Coast. Body parts began washing up on coastal beaches the next day.

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In 2014 a grand jury charged Speaks and Sanchez with second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. In addition to the life sentence for the murder count, the judge imposed sentences of 40 years and 20 years, respectively, on Speaks for the obstruction charges.

Grefer scheduled the trial of Sanchez, 31, for Dec. 7, Ciaccio said.

Speaks already is serving an eight-year prison sentence for failing to register in Jefferson Parish as a sex offender following a 2003 conviction in North Carolina for having sex with a minor.

(Editing By Frank McGurty and Bill Trott)