Days after he was released from a federal prison in an unrelated incident, Terry Speaks was back behind bars in Jefferson Parish on Wednesday, facing charges that he and his wife stabbed a Bourbon Street dancer in the heart two years ago before hacking up her remains and tossing them into the Gulf of Mexico in coastal Mississippi.
Speaks, 40, was extradited Wednesday from New York to Kenner, where he was booked with second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in connection with the death of Jaren Lockhart.
Speaks, who in a previous booking mugshot sported orange hair, had short brown hair and wore black-rimmed glasses, blue jeans, and a black windbreaker as he made his way through a concourse at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Had he not been surrounded by law enforcement officers and a media scrum, he could have passed for any other passenger.
He said nothing to reporters who jostled to ask him questions before he disappeared into a police car.
Speaks and Margaret Sanchez, 30, are suspected of picking up Lockhart — a 22-year-old mother of one — at Temptations, the Bourbon Street club where she danced, on June 6, 2012. Days later, pieces of her body began to wash up along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Authorities have yet to identify a motive for her death.
A recent State Police warrant seeking permission to search a cellphone said that Sanchez and Speaks “were involved in ritualistic sexual activities” and used the phone to record the acts — and presumably also whatever happened with Lockhart.
According to a Jefferson Parish arrest log, Speaks allegedly has admitted that he and Sanchez killed “a girl” in Louisiana, cut up her body and dumped the remains over a bridge in coastal Mississippi in an effort to keep them from being found.
That brief summary of the case was included in the arrest log filed after Sanchez was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center in May. It is not clear to whom Speaks allegedly made the statement about the stabbing death, but Kenner police traveled to New York to interview him after they took over the investigation from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office in Mississippi.
A grand jury has indicted Speaks and Sanchez on the same charges. Sanchez, who was arrested May 7, has pleaded not guilty.
Speaks’ arraignment is set for Monday. He was scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday until a delay in his extradition pushed back that appearance.
About the same time as officers whisked Speaks through the airport, Sanchez was at a hearing in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna, where Jefferson Parish prosecutors told Judge Stephen Grefer that District Attorney Paul Connick plans to sever the cases and try Speaks and Sanchez separately.
Grefer is scheduled to hear motions from prosecutors and attorneys for Speaks and Sanchez on Nov. 17.
Prosecutors are still awaiting the results of DNA testing of evidence in the case.
A trial date has been set for one of them for Jan. 12. It was not immediately clear Wednesday how the decision to split the trials would affect that schedule or whose case would be tried first.