NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A woman was sentenced to 40 years in prison Monday in the stabbing death of a Bourbon Street dancer whose dismembered body washed up along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Margaret Sanchez, 32, of Metairie, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, a year and a day after her ex-boyfriend, Terry Speaks, 43, was convicted in same killing. He is serving two life sentences.
Sanchez acknowledged that she and Speaks met Jaren Lockhart, a 22-year-old mother of three, at her exotic dancing job in the French Quarter and offered her several hundred dollars to come to their home in Kenner.
That's where they killed her on June 6, 2012, and cut up her body, prosecutors said.
Lockhart's torso floated ashore a day later in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Other parts drifted onto beaches over the next few days.
Sanchez was charged with second-degree murder. Her guilty plea to the lesser charge of manslaughter avoids a trial that was to begin on July 11.
"After consulting with Ms. Lockhart's family, it was decided that the negotiated plea agreement was in the best interests of all parties involved," Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick Jr. announced. "Out of respect for Ms. Lockhart and her family, I will not comment further on the case or the evidence."
Members of Lockhart's family, along with numerous law enforcement officers from Kenner and Hancock County, Mississippi, who were involved in the investigation, were present in the courtroom Monday when Sanchez entered her plea.
"Words cannot express the pain her family and friends have endured since the murder," Donna Kulick, the guardian of Ms. Lockhart's daughter, said in the impact testimony provided by the district attorney office.
She said the girl still cries over the loss of her mother, and that their family is "forever broken."
"This will have a huge impact on her for the rest of her life," Kulick testified.