Woman in stripper death case still in custody

A Kenner woman accused of harboring a sex offender remained in custody at the Tangipahoa Parish Jail on Friday afternoon, despite a reduction in her bail.

Margaret Sanchez, 29, was arrested June 12 during an investigation into the death and dismembering of New Orleans dancer and Tangipahoa Parish native Jaren Lockhart. Authorities have said Sanchez is a suspect, but she has not been charged in the case.

Sanchez faces one count each of failure to signal, resisting an officer by misinformation and harboring a sex offender.

Her bail was reduced from $250,000 to $35,000 on Wednesday.

Whether Sanchez’s family would be able to gather enough resources to secure her release is unknown, said Assistant Public Defender Allen Harvey, of the 21st Judicial District.

Sanchez’s father helped post her original bail of $1,500 on the traffic and resisting an officer counts on June 15.

There are three ways for a defendant to meet a bail requirement: cash, property and commercial bonds, said Chief Judge Robert Morrison, of the 21st Judicial District.

A bond is a promise — namely, to show up for court when called, he said.

A defendant who has the means can pay the entire bail amount set by the judge in cash, Morrison said.

Or the defendant can post a property bond by giving to the sheriff a copy of the property assessment and certificates noting any mortgages or liens against the property, Morrison said.

The assessed value of the property, minus any mortgage or lien amounts, must be equal to or greater than the bail amount set by the judge, Morrison said.

When property is used to meet bail, the sheriff places a lien against it, pending the conclusion of the case, Morrison said.

Cash and property bonds are returned to defendants if they show up for court, he said. Otherwise, the cash is forfeited to the district’s criminal justice fund, and the property lien becomes permanent, Morrison said.

Both cash and property bonds require the defendant to post an amount equal to the bail set by the judge.

With a commercial bond, however, a defendant can pay a percentage of the bail amount — usually 10 to 12 percent — to a bail bondsman, and the bondsman will ensure the defendant’s appearance in court by posting a surety with the jail in the full bail amount, Morrison said.

The percentage paid to a bail bondsman is given up entirely as a payment for the bondsman’s services, he said. The defendant will not get that money back, regardless of any appearance in court.

When defendants do not appear in court, however, the bondsmen must either locate them and bring them back to jail or forfeit the entire bail amount to the sheriff, Morrison said.

Bondsmen can go to great lengths to find people, he said.

“It’s pretty rare that we have someone that flies the coop and is not apprehended,” Morrison said.

Sanchez and Terry Speaks, 38, a sex offender convicted in North Carolina, were found and arrested near Loranger on June 12, after police received calls identifying the pair as the couple seen on a surveillance video leaving a Bourbon Street club with Lockhart on June 6, several hours before she was reported missing.

Lockhart’s partial remains and clothing washed ashore on several beaches in Mississippi, beginning with Hancock County on June 7.

Hancock investigators have said Sanchez and Speaks are suspects in Lockhart’s death, but neither of the pair has been charged.

Speaks has been extradited to North Carolina, where he was wanted for failure to maintain a current address with the state’s sex offender registry.

Sanchez has remained in the Tangipahoa Parish Jail since her arrest.

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