While serving time in a federal penitentiary in upstate New York, Terry Speaks took to the prison’s computer system one Friday in July 2013 and fired off an angry email to Margaret Sanchez, his accused co-conspirator in the murder and dismemberment of Bourbon Street dancer Jaren Lockhart.
“I want to tell everything to the people just so you can suffer like me,” Speaks wrote, according to court documents filed this week by Jefferson Parish prosecutors. “I did everything to clean up the mess and where’s the thanks?”
He added, “You’re the one they’ll fry and not me.”
The email excerpts, which emerged just weeks before Speaks’ June 15 trial date, show his resentment of Sanchez as he sat in jail on an unrelated sex offender charge while the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s Office built a case against them.
“Remember when you went to work and I had to spring clean?” Speaks wrote, an apparent reference to the afternoon of June 6, 2012, when authorities say Speaks cleaned the Kenner apartment where he and Sanchez allegedly had stabbed Lockhart several hours before. “Well, I saved some things in case I needed them in case you went off course. Well, you’re off course. I’m not stupid by any means, Margaret.”
“Remember the boots?” the email continues. “Remember the panties with both your juices in them? Do you remember what you were wearing? Shall I go on? You can stop this by just being who you said you are, my wife. Next time I go into more detail.”
The email excerpts were part of the prosecution’s response to a motion by Speaks’ attorneys, who sought last week to have the murder indictment against him thrown out on grounds that Jefferson Parish prosecutors can’t prove Lockhart was killed there.
“That rant from the defendant is a very clear illustration of what happened to poor Jaren Lockhart,” Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese said during a hearing Wednesday before 24th Judicial District Judge Stephen Grefer.
Defense attorney John Benz argued that the state has no physical evidence that the murder and dismemberment took place in Jefferson, and he questioned the credibility of two inmates who are expected to testify that Speaks confessed the crime to them while they were all imprisoned in New York.
Grefer, however, ruled in favor of the prosecution after a short hearing.
In addition to the email, Freese presented a timeline he said was established by witnesses and surveillance camera footage and argued that the credibility of the two inmates is up for a jury to decide when the men testify.
Freese said surveillance camera footage showed Speaks, Sanchez and Lockhart leaving a Bourbon Street club just after 2 a.m. June 6. Speaks and Sanchez had gone into Temptations Gentlemen’s Club, where Lockhart worked, and the club Stiletto’s next door, looking for girls to come home with them.
While many refused, Lockhart agreed, telling co-workers that she was going to go “make rent,” and the three were recorded turning onto Iberville Street at 2:21 a.m. At 2:43 a.m., the couple’s green Chevrolet Lumina was photographed by a license plate recognition camera at Loyola Drive near Interstate 10.
“Jaren is never seen alive again,” Freese said.
According to the filing, at 10:40 a.m., Sanchez reported to work, driven by Speaks. Both were said to be “visibly unkempt.”
That night, at 8:43 p.m., Sanchez’s car was captured on camera at Williams Boulevard and West Esplanade Avenue, with a witness placing both of them inside the vehicle.
At 9:34 p.m., the Lumina was photographed entering Mississippi. Just over two hours later, at 11:51 p.m., it was photographed crossing the state line headed back into Louisiana.
At 5:50 p.m. the following day, Lockhart’s torso washed up on the beach in Hancock County, Mississippi.
The timeline, Freese wrote in the state’s response to the motion to quash the indictment, “offers a very clear picture of Jaren’s last hours and the immediate efforts of her murderers to cover their tracks.”
Freese said the timeline is sufficient evidence to show that Lockhart was dead and dismembered before Speaks and Sanchez made their trip across state lines.
The dismemberment “is not something that is done in the parking lot at Wal-Mart,” he said. “This is not something that is done on an open beach. This is done in a controlled setting.”
As for the credibility of the two New York witnesses, Freese said the two inmates may in fact be seeking a lighter sentence for themselves in return for sharing Speaks’ alleged confessions with authorities, but their credibility is a matter for the jury to decide.
Grefer ruled that the photographs and witnesses that formed the timeline were sufficient evidence that Jefferson Parish is the right venue for the case, and that contradictions in the stories of the New York inmates reflected variations in the story Speaks was telling, not contradictions of their own.
While not enough to force a change of venue, Grefer said, “clearly, their credibility will be at issue when they testify in this case.”
Sanchez is to be tried separately from Speaks, though her trial date has not yet been set.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.