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Terry Speaks sentenced to life in prison for murder and dismemberment of Jaren Lockhart

Terry Speaks, 42 (Source: Kenner Police Department) Terry Speaks, 42 (Source: Kenner Police Department)
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

The man convicted of killing and dismembering a Bourbon Street dancer has been sentenced to life in prison without parole.

During sentencing on Thursday, Judge Steven Grefer called the case “the most horrendous crime he's ever presided over.”

He sentenced Speaks, 42, to life in prison without the possibility for parole for second degree murder. In addition, Judge Grefer gave Speaks 40 years for obstruction of justice and 20 years for conspiracy. Those sentences will run concurrently. 

It was an emotional morning in court as the judge heard victim statements before handing down Terry Speaks' sentence.

The grandmother and legal guardian of Jaren Lockhart's daughter choked up as she described life after Lockhart's death. She says on many nights, they have to console Riley who asks why her mother had to go away.

"May God forgive you, because right now we're not able to find it in our hearts to forgive you for what you have done to our family," she said.

Judge Grefer also denied Speaks’ request for a new trial. Speak’s attorney filed a motion on Monday, arguing the judge should have asked his client about possible mental illness when Speaks said he wanted to represent himself. Prior to his trial in June, Speaks dismissed his counsel, opting to represent himself. After representing himself through jury selection and the first day of testimony, Speaks requested his attorney to represent him again.

Speaks filed a handwritten motion asking for a post-verdict judgment of acquittal, arguing not enough evidence was presented at the trial to convict him. Judge Grefer also denied that motion. 

Speaks and his former girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, are accused in the 2012 death and dismemberment of Lockhart, whom they met at the French Quarter strip club where Lockhart worked. The pair allegedly dismembered the Bourbon Street dancer before disposing her body along the Mississippi coast, police say.

Speaks will be immediately transferred to the Hunt Correctional Center outside of Gonzales where he will be held and evaluated for 60 days. He will likely serve his sentence in Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

Speaks returns to court Sept. 14 for multiple felony offender proceedings. If the judge rules in favor of the state, Speaks 40-year sentence would be vacated and he could receive up to life in prison for the obstruction of justice charge.

Sanchez was not in the courtroom Thursday for a pretrial hearing but the judge set another status hearing date of Aug. 10 and a tentative trial date of Dec. 7.

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