GRETNA, La. (AP) - Prosecutors should not be allowed to use an alleged jailhouse confession by a man accused of killing and dismembering a Bourbon Street dancer because the cellmate who heard it was acting as a state agent, his public defender says.
Christian Del Rosario should have had to tell Terry Speaks that he had a right to remain silent or consult an attorney, and that anything he said might be used against him, according to John Benz.
Speaks and his girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, have both pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Jaren Lockhart, who was stabbed to death in 2012. Parts of her body washed up on Mississippi beaches.
Del Rosario was a mentor for inmates "to gain their trust so that he could obtain information regarding crimes they have committed," Benz wrote in a motion filed Monday in the 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, NOLA.com ' The Times-Picayune reported.
"Del Rosario, with the permission and intent of the state, was allowed and directed to conduct classes in which (Speaks) would attend, thus again gaining his trust and luring him to reveal certain criminating evidence against him," Benz wrote.
Court documents indicate Del Rosario was a suicide watch companion and a peer assistant in a program called Freedom from Drugs and helped to lead a victim impact class,
The New Orleans Advocate reported. Speaks made the alleged confession while serving time in a federal prison in Otisville, New York, for failing to register as a sex offender after being convicted in 2003 in North Carolina of having sex with a minor.
A Kenner police detective testified during a preliminary examination in May that Speaks told a cellmate that he and his wife picked up a stripper at a Bourbon Street club, used drugs and drove to a place near an airport where his wife and the other woman got into a fight that ended in death.
Prosecutors have not formally responded to Benz's allegations. Judge Stephen Grefer already had scheduled a hearing Dec. 12 to deal with defense motions about potential witnesses.
Prosecutors have said they plan to try Speaks and Sanchez separately. No trial date has been set. Speaks' bond has been set at $1.75 million, that for Sanchez at $1.5 million.