GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - After a full day of testimony in his murder trial, accused killer Terry Speaks decided Tuesday that he does not want to represent himself. The change of heart came after graphic testimony about how Jaren Lockhart died in 2012.
Lockhart's family fights to keep her memory alive after an emotional day in court. A relative tells FOX 8, "She was a mother, she was a daughter, she was a girlfriend and she was a friend to a lot of people."
Lockhart's former co-workers at Temptations gentleman's club described a friendly girl who wanted to make money to support her young daughter.
Maya Suarez testified, "She was always sweet to me, even when I was the new girl."
Mike Welch worked as a doorman at the club. He says he saw Lockhart leave on June 6 with Terry Speaks and Margaret Sanchez. It was the last time she was seen alive. When Welch called Speaks the next morning to inquire about Lockhart's whereabouts, he testified, "He went off on me and said he wasn't with her and didn't know where she was. He was irate."
A Kenner police sergeant used license plate recognition software to trace Lockhart's car. It was spotted on I-10 heading East. Lockhart's dismembered remains were discovered on a beach in Bay St. Louis days after her disappearance.
Glenn Grannon, with the Hancock County Sheriff's Office, helped investigate Lockhart's murder in 2012. He says he's confident Terry Speaks is guilty and believes prosecutors have built a strong case against him. "For every little piece, there's something that corroborates it - or two or three things that corroborate it - so it's solid," Grannon said.
Tuesday began with opening statements, hours before Speaks decided he wanted public defender John Benz to take over his case. Prosecutor Doug Freese explained Lockhart's murder to jurors, describing how her body was cut up saying, "It wasn't just dismembered, it was disarticulated, meaning it was severed at the joints in a careful and deliberate effort done by individuals."
Speaks first words to the jury: "After that opening argument, I'm ready to convict myself."
He went on to say: "Evidence isn't always the evidence that it looks like. It could point to someone else."
The last witness of the day, a former dancer at Stilettos, the club next to Temptations, testified that Speaks and Sanchez first approached her the night Lockhart disappeared, asking if she wanted to work a private party. She turned them down.
Court resumes Wednesday morning.