Jaren Lockhart’s murderer sentenced to life in prison

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Terry Speaks mugshot from 2014

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GRETNA, La. (WGNO) - Terry Speaks has been sentenced to life in prison for killing and dismembering Jaren Lockhart. After his sentencing, WGNO Anchor Jacki Jing spoke directly with Lockhart's family. They did not want to go on camera but told her, "Justice has been served and they want to thank the court system."

Before sentencing, Speaks's legal team filed two motions: One for a new trial. Another for a "post judgment of acquittal", which claims the jury's verdict wasn't consistent with evidence. The judge denied both those claims.

Then the grandmother of Jaren Lockhart's daughter Riley took the stand. She almost immediately started crying and fought back tears the entire time she read her statement, saying quote:

“Many nights we had to hold and console Riley because she would be missing her mommy and not understanding why she had to go away and leave her. To this day, Riley will cry when thinking about Jaren...The laughter, hugs and sense of security, and those opportunities to say, 'I love you’ are forever gone...Our family is forever broken. May God forgive you because we are not able to find it in our hearts to forgive you for what you have done to this family. And more importantly what you have done to Riley.”

Lockhart went missing three years ago. Her body parts were later found ashore beaches in Mississippi. The judge also gave him the maximum sentence of 40 years for the first count of obstruction of justice and the maximum sentence of 20 years for the second count of obstruction of justice. Those sentences will run consecutive to the life in prison sentence. Speaks has 30 days to appeal. His attorney, John Benz, said it was a harsh sentencing.

This case is not closed yet though. The state asked if they could enhance Speaks's sentencing because he's a multiple felony offender. That court date is set for September 14th. Speaks plead not guilty to these charges.

Speaks alleged accomplice and then girlfriend, Margaret Sanchez, was in court Thursday, as well. Her lawyer attended the hearing, Sanchez was not present. Sanchez has another status hearing on August 10th and a trial date for December 7th.

It was a very emotional day. Jaren's grandmother Donna Kulick sobbed very hard after statement. You could hear people in the courtroom crying. When Speaks's sentence came down, one person whispered, "yes". Speaks seemed emotionless for most of it. He walked out of the courtroom handcuffed, with his lips pursed.

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