Man accused of killing, dismembering stripper makes late request for new public defender



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GRETNA, Louisiana — The man accused of killing and dismembering a Bourbon Street stripper is making a last-minute request for a new public defender.

Terry Speaks' request came in a two-page letter to Judge Stephen Grefer, who has scheduled his trial June 15, The New Orleans Advocate reported (http://bit.ly/1G292Bk).

Speaks and Margaret Sanchez, whose trial has not yet been scheduled, are charged with second-degree murder of Jaren Lockhart, and with obstructing justice and conspiring to obstruct justice in the investigation that began after parts of her body washed up on Mississippi beaches.

Surveillance video from June 6, 2012, the night Lockhart disappeared, shows her leaving Temptations Gentlemen's Club with Speaks and Sanchez, prosecutors have said.

Speaks' letter says John Benz won't give him enough say in defense motions. Speaks said that when Benz submitted an unsuccessful motion to quash the indictment, he ignored Speaks' request to present evidence that Lockhart said she was leaving the club with someone else, whose name she gave.

Benz did not immediately respond to the newspaper's request for comment Friday or to an emailed request for comment Sunday from The Associated Press.

Speaks said he has spoken to Benz only eight times in the 210 days he has been in Jefferson Parish prison, never for more than an hour.

"Your honor this is not a typical murder case by any means. It is actually one of Louisiana's highest profile cases and does not need to be looked at so lightly," Speaks wrote. "This is my life as well as another person's life that will be affected by the outcome. Everybody wants justice in this case and both the defendant and victim deserve the best representation possible."

He apologized for the last-minute request but said he wasn't aware until recently that he could ask for a new lawyer.

Speaks is also being represented by Brad Scott, who joined the case last month.

Benz sought unsuccessfully to have the case delayed, saying he hadn't had enough time to prepare. Grefer said the June 15 trial date was firm and that with the Scott's help, Benz should have time to be ready.

Sanchez is represented by different public defenders.


Information from: The New Orleans Advocate, http://www.neworleansadvocate.com

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