Testimony begins Tuesday in Terry Speaks murder trial

Testimony begins Tuesday in Terry Speaks murder trial

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Opening statements are expected Tuesday for the man accused of murdering and dismembering a Bourbon Street dancer. Defendant Terry Speaks will represent himself at trial.

Terry Speaks, 42, and former girlfriend Margaret Sanchez are accused of killing Jaren Lockhart in 2012. Surveillance video shows Lockhart leaving a French Quarter club with the couple the last time she was seen alive.The pair allegedly dismembered the Bourbon Street dancer before disposing her body along the Mississippi coast, police say.

Appearing before Judge Stephen Grefer on Monday, Speaks was advised against self-representation. Grefer made every effort to ensure that Speaks, who has a high school education, understood the ramifications, saying he would be given no special privileges while going up against experienced attorneys.

Earlier in the month, Speaks asked to fire attorney John Benz, claiming he hadn't put forth sufficient effort in Speaks' defense. Benz will continue to advise Speaks as standby counsel. If Speaks changes his mind during the trial, attorneys can take over representation.

Speaks faces a second degree murder charge. On Monday, he helped question potential jurors.

A legal analyst says Speaks faces an uphill battle in court acting as his own lawyer.

"Anybody that represents themselves has a fool for a client," said attorney Bobby Hjortsberg. "He's going to make mistakes almost every question he asks throughout the trial and its going to be very difficult for him to make any headway whatsoever."

A jury of 12, including two alternates, was chosen. The jury is made up of eight women and six men.

Opening statements begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday in Gretna.

Speaks' ex-girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, is also accused of killing and dismembering Lockhart.

She has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including second-degree murder. Her trial date has not been scheduled.

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