Jury selected in Speaks trial; Speaks to represent himself

Jury selected in Speaks trial; Speaks to represent himself
Jaren Lockhart
Jaren Lockhart

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WAFB) - It was a case that sent shock waves through the region. It began when body parts washed up on the Mississippi coast.

Deputies there soon identified the victim as Jaren Lockhart, a Bourbon Street dancer reported missing just days before. What followed was a long search for her killer that would take investigators on a twisted journey, stretching from New Orleans to New York. 

Early in the investigation, surveillance video pointed Mississippi officials to a couple, Margaret Sanchez and Terry Speaks. It would be two years before officials had everything they needed to charge them with Lockhart's murder. 

Almost exactly three years after Lockhart died, the first of her accused killers is facing trial. Before the trial could began, Speaks made a move experts say is unusual at the least. He ditched his lawyer and chose to represent himself.

"It's like allowing a rookie to get out there and play in the Super Bowl," said Baton Rouge Attorney Lewis Unglesby. 

Unglesby has no connection to the Speaks trial, but he says in 40 years of practicing he's never seen a murder defendant act as his own attorney.  
"It's bad judgment. He needs a lawyer to be objective. Sometimes the best defense is not talking at all," said Unglesby. 
In the first day of the trial, after a jury was selected, Speaks reportedly did have trouble talking as his first statements were constantly met with objections from the prosecution. The accused murderer did manage to plead with the jury to consider him innocent until proven guilty and even used a cookie jar analogy.

"Speculation," Speaks said. "I just learned that word myself."

Though Speaks was assigned a lawyer to guide him through procedure, Unglesby suspects the court is in for a long and tedious trial. 
"The legal system is a system and it works well, very well. But, it works well when the people who are doing it understand the process," said Unglesby. 

The trial continues on Tuesday in Jefferson Parish Court. 

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