Terry Speaks has asked the Jefferson Parish judge scheduled to preside over his second-degree murder trial starting Monday to delay the proceedings due to the recent discovery of the bodies of two young women along Interstate 10.
Speaks, who is charged along with alleged co-conspirator Margaret Sanchez with killing Bourbon Street dancer Jaren Lockhart and dismembering her corpse in 2012, filed the last-minute request Friday. It mentioned neither woman by name and focused mostly on the similarities between Speaks’ case and the apparent circumstances surrounding the death of Jasilas Wright, the woman found Wednesday.
Speaks said a continuance would allow his attorney and authorities to investigate the deaths of the two women to “ascertain if they may have any bearing on/or benefit his defense.”
Wright was a dancer at Stiletto’s Cabaret, which is next door to Temptations, where Lockhart worked, and both clubs have the same owner, according to Speaks’ attorney, John Benz. Wright was last seen leaving with a male acquaintance, and both her and Lockhart’s bodies were found in pieces.
The filing also notes that Wright’s body was found in Metairie close to Kenner, where Speaks lived at the time he and Sanchez are accused of killing Lockhart.
The other woman referenced in the filing was 16-year-old Kaylan Ward, whose body was found last week on I-10 near Bullard Avenue in eastern New Orleans. The coroner said she died of blunt force trauma. Family members have said they suspect foul play, but police are treating her death as unclassified, not a homicide.
“The defendant has always maintained that he is innocent of the crime of which he is charged and has maintained that he had no connection with Jaren Lockhart,” the filing states. “There is absolutely no (possibility) that defendant could have committed these recent crimes.”
Judge Stephen Grefer, of 24th Judicial District Court, is scheduled to rule before the trial begins Monday on a request Speaks made last week to replace Benz as his attorney.
Grefer previously rejected a request by Benz for a continuance in the case for more time to prepare Speaks’ defense.
Sanchez is being tried separately, though no trial date has been set yet.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.