Terry Speaks quits representing himself, asks for return of court-appointed attorneys

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GRETNA, La. (WGNO) - He put on a business suit and made an attempt, but a day after firing his court-appointed attorneys, Terry Speaks has fired himself.

Minutes after telling jurors that court might be in session later than usual on Tuesday to get through a number of witnesses, Judge Stephen Grefer was addressing the defendant, the man accused of murdering and dismembering 22-year-old mother Jaren Lockhart.

The judge advised speaks more than once that as of now, "You will not be co-counsel. You will be defendant only."

Public defenders John Benz and Brad Scott are back in charge.

Criminal defense attorney Ray Canzoneri, Jr. is following the case; he says this shift in representation is no surprise.

"It's overwhelming for most defense attorneys to take in much less somebody who's gonna do it pro se, by themselves. It's not gonna work, and he was smart enough at that point to say, 'Look, judge. I made a mistake. I need those lawyers. I need those IDB attorneys,” says Canzoneri, adding “That's why we went to school, that's why we learned the process."

Canzoneri says that on a difficulty scale of 1 to 100, a murder trial is a 99.

Speaks approached Judge Grefer with the requested update during witness testimony from a former dancer at Stilettos Gentlemen's Club who knew the victim and was explaining to the court how speaks and his girlfriend had approached her on same night Lockhart was last seen alive. She says they asked her to dance at a private bachelor party.

Court is set to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday and Canzoneri says, it’s likely the same witness will remain on the stand.

"At this point that witness has to stay on the stand unless there was some kind of agreement that was made between the prosecution and the defense, that they were gonna call another witness out of turn, but usually that doesn't happen,” says Canzoneri.

Earlier in the afternoon, jurors were presented with security camera video, phone records, license plate recognition data, and the heartbreaking story of the detective who had the task of obtaining a DNA sample from Lockhart's 3-year-old daughter.

He said she asked him, "Have you found my mommy yet? She's lost."

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