A state judge denied a defense request Wednesday to delay the June 15 trial of a man charged in the death and dismemberment of Bourbon Street dancer Jaren Lockhart. The judge said Terry Speaks’ attorney and a newly appointed co-counsel have had enough time to prepare to defend their client.
Speaks, 42, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Lockhart, whose body parts washed up on Gulf Coast beaches days after she disappeared in June 2012.
Lockhart was seen on surveillance footage leaving Temptations Gentlemen’s Club with Speaks and his then-girlfriend Margaret Sanchez, who is expected to have a separate trial in the murder.
The two are accused of stabbing Lockhart to death in a Kenner apartment, dismembering her body and throwing the pieces into the water in Mississippi.
John Benz, Speaks’ attorney, told 24th Judicial District Court Judge Stephen Grefer on Wednesday that the Public Defender’s Office has appointed a second attorney to represent Speaks, and the two need more time to prepare their case.
Benz said co-counsel Brad Scott has a full slate of cases in the court’s other divisions, and that the forensic pathologist has not been returning his calls, so he is going to have to find a new one to use for the case.
“A year is not an inordinate amount of time for this case to be brought to trial,” he said.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Block, however, said prosecutors turned over the evidence they have in the case in October, before Speaks had even been arraigned in Jefferson Parish.
“This case is really no different than any other homicide that is tried in this building,” Block said.
Benz said he represents plenty of clients whose cases are older than Speaks’.
Grefer, however, said the June 15 trial date is firm. He said the court typically schedules second-degree murder trials even more quickly but specifically gave this one more time when the trial date was set in January. He said that with more than four weeks left to prepare, Benz and Scott should have the time they need.
Benz also filed a motion to throw out the indictment against his client; it will be heard May 21.
Attorneys for Sanchez, who was not in the courtroom Wednesday, will file the same request to be heard on the same date.
Prosecutors have indicated they plan to try Sanchez, 31, separately from Speaks, though the cases have not yet been formally split.
Speaks and Sanchez also are charged with obstruction of justice stemming from the dismemberment.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.