August 26, 2014 9:32:35 AM
GRETNA, La. -- A woman has entered a not guilty plea in connection with the death and dismemberment of a French Quarter strip club dancer whose body parts washed ashore in 2012 on the Mississippi coast.
Margaret Sanchez, 30, entered the plea Monday in Jefferson Parish to charges of second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of Jaren Lockhart, 22.
Nola.com/The Times-Picayune reports that a public defender entered the plea for Sanchez, who said little during the brief court hearing.
Sanchez is being held in the Jefferson Parish jail in Gretna with bond set at $1.5 million.
Terry Speaks, 41, faces the same charges as Sanchez in Jefferson Parish.
Speaks is being held in a federal prison in New York in connection with an unrelated sex-offender charge from North Carolina.
Speaks is scheduled to complete that sentence during the first week of October, said Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese, who has been assigned to prosecute the couple in Jefferson Parish with Tommy Block.
Sanchez is scheduled to appear in court again on Oct. 15.
Judge Stephen Grefer of the 24th Judicial District Court is presiding over the case.
In addition to the charges tied to Lockhart's death, Speaks also is charged with failing to register as a sex offender. He was charged with a similar offense in North Carolina in early 2012, in connection with his 2003 conviction there for having sex with a 14-year-old girl. Jefferson Parish prosecutors say in court documents that Speaks was required to register as a sex offender but did not do so during the period he lived in the parish, believed to be between Jan. 1 and June 12, 2012.
Speaks, whose criminal history includes assault and domestic violence in North Carolina, used three alias: Allen Rice, Leslie Allen Rice and Leslie Rice, according to the indictment against him and Sanchez. He faces a $1.75 million bond in Jefferson Parish.
The Hancock County, Mississippi, Sheriff's Office initially led the investigation into Lockhart's death, until it turned over the case to the Kenner Police Department earlier this year. Soon after, Kenner detectives arrested Sanchez at her Metairie home. Kenner police also obtained a warrant for Speaks' arrest.