AMITE — A state District Court judge found probable cause Tuesday 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.
Tangipahoa Parish sheriff’s Detective Mike Moore testified during the 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 21st Judicial District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks “was kinda put into a spot where this was the only decision she could make.”
“It goes beyond this charge,” McIntyre said. “No one wants to say we did the right thing and followed the law and let her (Sanchez) go, and then something happens.”
Sanchez and Speaks were arrested June 12 following a traffic stop near Loranger, Moore said.
The couple had been identified as the same couple seen 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, authorities said.
During the Loranger traffic stop, Sanchez identified Speaks as her husband, “Allen,” Moore testified.
Speaks said his name was “Leslie Allen Rice” and gave officers a phony Social Security number during the traffic stop, he said.
When asked for more information, Speaks fled on foot, and Sanchez yelled to him, calling him “David,” Moore said.
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, deputies said.
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 Tangipahoa Parish Jail in lieu of $1,500 bail, deputies said.
The harboring count was added June 18, and Sanchez’s bail was raised to $250,000, then reduced to $35,000, 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, 22, a Tangipahoa Parish native, though neither has been arrested in that case, investigator Glenn Grannan, of the Hancock County, Miss., Sheriff’s Office, has said.