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Terry Speaks fires himself as attorney

GRETNA, LA (WVUE) -

Near the end of a rocky first day of testimony in his murder trial, accused killer Terry Speaks told the judge he no longer wanted to act as his own counsel.

Public defender John Benz will now take over the case.

The twist came Tuesday, a day when prosecutors showed graphic pictures of the dismembered body of Jaren Lockhart - including photos that the prosecution said indicate the killer was trying to remove her tattoos.

Speaks and his former girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, are accused of luring Lockhart from the Bourbon Street strip club where she worked, offering a large amounts of cash for a threesome at their Kenner home.

Speaks, who is acting as his own attorney, had a chance to deliver an opening statement but was cut short by prosecutors who continued to object to his remarks.

He told jurors that detectives found no evidence that directly links him to Lockhart's murder.

During testimony an expert pathologist said Lockhart was killed by a single stab wound to the chest.

"It was a single-edge blade knife, max at least 4 inches long, entered mid-chest through sternum...penetrated heart," said Dr. Dana Troxclair.

During Speaks' cross-examination of Troxclair, he asked her if the murder weapon could be a curbed tool commonly used to cut down wheat.

"Just to be clear, a scythe - or however you pronounce it - wouldn't be the murder weapon?"

"No," said Troxclair.

Speaks then tried to break down the autopsy after jurors were shown images of Lockhart's body, including images that showed missing forearms and feet.

"Could you determine how long the body was in the water?" he asked Troxclair, no which she answered, “No.” He then asked, "Could you determine the time of death?" Troxclair: "No."

The prosecution has several pieces of circumstantial evidence still left to introduce, which likely means the trial will last through the week.

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