NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A man convicted in the death and dismemberment of a Bourbon Street dancer is seeking a new trial, citing a history of mental illness and three failed requests for a mistrial during his proceedings.
Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Douglas Freese said Tuesday that a hearing on the motion will be heard Thursday, the same date Terry Speaks, 42, is scheduled to be sentenced to life in prison in the 2013 death of Jaren Lockhart, 22.
Freese refused to comment on the motion or on what the arguments against it will be. “There is a second defendant in this case, and I don’t want to jeopardize that case,” Freese said.
Public defender John Benz filed the new trial motion Monday.
Benz argues that District Judge Stephen Grefer should have asked Speaks about possible mental illness when the defendant sought to represent himself on the trial’s opening day. Benz’s motion said Speaks had been hospitalized for mental illness, including a suicide attempt.
During the trial, several motions were made seeking mistrial.
Speaks began his trial representing himself. After opening statements and one day of questioning witnesses, Speaks handed his defense back to his attorney.
In his motion, Benz said in that 1991-1992 while in the Marine Corps, Speaks was diagnosed with “borderline personality disorder,” and that in 2010, he was in health care facility with a “mental breakdown.”
There was no reference in the motion on when or where Speaks attempted suicide.
When contacted Tuesday about the new trial motion, Benz said, “I don’t comment to the news media.”
Surveillance video showed Speaks and his girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, 31, leaving Temptations Gentlemens Club with Lockhart on June 6, 2012, the night before she was reported missing.
Speaks and Sanchez are accused of cutting up Lockhart’s body and dumping the remains along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Hancock County.
Speaks was convicted on June 19 of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Sanchez’s trial date has not been set.