An ex-marine has been found guilty of dismembering a stripper he invited to a 'private party' at the apartment he shared with his girlfriend.
Sex offender Terry Speaks, 42, was convicted of second-degree murder following the death of Jaren Lockhart, 22, whose body parts washed ashore on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in June 2012.
He told the court from the witness stand on Friday, June 19th 2015 that he and co-defendant Margaret Sanchez, his ex-girlfriend, last saw the victim after arranging for her to go to a party with a stranger named Nick, and dance for $500.
Jaren Lockhart, 22
But the jury disagreed, instead siding with prosecutors who said he stabbed the mother-of-one in the heart at his New Orleans apartment, cut her body into pieces and then dumped them into the Mississippi Sound.
He now faces life in prison when he is sentenced while Sanchez will face trial at a later date.
Speaks, who was convicted in North Carolina of having sex with a minor in 2003, testified earlier on Friday that he felt guilty about sending Lockhart to her death, in a bid to get sympathy from the jury.
He said he did not tell investigators about Nick, or about another man he supposedly let borrow his car for $50 on the night of the killing, because he was concerned that he would be looked at as 'contributing' to Lockhart's killing.
'My thought is we talked this girl into doing this party,' Speaks testified. 'I felt guilty about talking her into going to this party that she did not return from.'
Speaks' girlfriend and co-defendant Margaret Sanchez
Speaks was at times defensive, but mostly came across as subdued and he even choked up at one moment.
The trial is taking place in Jefferson Parish, a suburban area adjacent to New Orleans. Prosecutors charge that the murder took place at a home Speaks and Sanchez were living in near the city's airport.
Speaks was also found guilty with obstruction of justice in the case.
He initially tried to represent himself in the trial but after one day handed the case back to his defense attorneys.
Jefferson Parish Assistant District Attorney Doug Freese painted a portrait of Speaks as a serial liar who came up with stories to avoid conviction.
Freese said Speaks made false statements to investigators when he was arrested six days after the slaying.
He acknowledged using an alias while living in New Orleans because he was wanted for a probation violation and he admitted misleading investigators because he didn't want to go back to prison.
When authorities arrested him on June 12, he tried to flee because he had warrants for his arrest, he said, not because he had killed Lockhart.
Freese challenged Speaks on why he didn't tell investigators about Nick and the other man he supposedly let use his car on the night of the killing. Speaks said investigators didn't give him a chance to tell his side of the story and were determined that he was guilty.
The prosecution also relied on emails Speaks sent to Lockhart while he was in prison and testimony from an inmate who said Speaks told him he had done the killing.