GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Gruesome details emerged Tuesday in the opening arguments of the Terry Speaks murder trial. Speaks, 42, and former girlfriend Margaret Sanchez are accused of killing Bourbon Street dance Jaren Lockhart in 2012.
Speaks will represent himself in trial. 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.
In his opening statement on Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese told jurors that Speaks and Sanchez "demonstrated their absolute lack of respect for the law, for life and for basic human dignity."
Surveillance video shows Lockhart leaving a French Quarter club with the couple on June 6, 2012, 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.
Freese described in grisly detail how the victim's body was dismembered. He said Lockhart's body was dismembered in a way to hide her tattoos.
"You will conclude that her body was treated as if it was trash and dropping it in the Gulf was a mission to have her be a missing person," he said.
Freese spoke to jurors for more than an hour Tuesday, elaborating on the gruesome details.
Speaks' opening statement was filled with objections from the prosecution and lasted lass than 15 minutes.
"After that opening argument I'm ready to convict myself," he began. However, he proclaimed his innocence.
"They have not found any evidence, but [Freese] wants you to think that we're calculated individuals," Speaks told jurors. "But how about you didn't find evidence because the crime didn't happen, we didn't do it."
Following his brief opening statement, witnesses were called to testify. Dr. Dana Troxclair, a forensic pathologist, tendered as an expert witness. She claimed drugs were in Lockhart's system, but was not the cause of death. Lockhart died of a stab wound, she explained in graphic detail.
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, but is scheduled for a court status hearing on Friday.