Judge holds probable cause hearing

By The Associated Press

AMITE, La. — A state district judge has found probable cause to keep a woman — one of two suspects in the death and dismemberment of a New Orleans dancer — in custody on a count of harboring a sex offender.

The Advocate reports Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s Detective Mike Moore testified during Tuesday’s hearing that defendant Margaret Sanchez, 28, of Kenner, referred to alleged slaying accomplice Terry Christopher Speaks, 39, by two aliases the night of the couple’s arrest in Tangipahoa Parish and told officers she knew Speaks had “a history or a warrant” in North Carolina.

The Public Defender’s Office argued there was no proof Sanchez knew Speaks was a sex offender, but public defender Reggie McIntyre said afterward that state District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks “was kinda put into a spot where this was the only decision she could make.”

Sanchez and Speaks were arrested June 12 following a traffic stop near Loranger, Moore said.

The couple had been identified in a surveillance video leaving the Bourbon Street club where dancer Jaren Lockhart, 22, worked around 2 a.m. June 6, the day Lockhart was reported missing, investigators said.

Lockhart’s partial remains floated ashore on several Mississippi beaches, beginning June 7 in Hancock County.

After his capture, Speaks continued to misidentify himself for more than an hour, giving two phony Social Security numbers and a phony North Carolina driver’s license number, until he finally admitted his real name and date of birth, Moore said.

Officers then identified Speaks by photograph as a sex offender wanted in North Carolina, California and by the U.S. Marshals Service for failure to register as a sex offender, Moore testified.

Speaks was booked with several counts, among them being a fugitive from the U.S. Marshals Service.

He later was transferred into federal custody and extradited to North Carolina, authorities said.

Sanchez was booked with failure to signal and resisting an officer by providing misinformation, and was held in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail in lieu of $1,500 bail. The harboring count was added June 18, and Sanchez’s bail was raised to $250,000, then reduced to $35,000, court records show.

Sanchez pleaded no contest to the traffic and resisting counts July 12 and was given credit for time served, District Attorney Scott Perrilloux said.

Perrilloux has not formally charged Sanchez with the harboring count, but has until 60 days from the arrest, or Aug. 17, to do so, McIntyre said.

Defense attorneys are considering filing an appeal, McIntyre said.

Sanchez and Speaks remain the primary suspects in the slaying of Lockhart though neither has been arrested in that case, investigator Glenn Grannan, of the Hancock County, Miss., Sheriff’s Office, has said.