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Preliminary hearing begins in Loretta Saunders murder case 0

By Kris Sims, Atlantic Bureau

Loretta Saunders. (Halifax Regional Police/HO)

Loretta Saunders. (Halifax Regional Police/HO)

HALIFAX -- A preliminary hearing got underway Monday for two people accused of killing Loretta Saunders, a young Inuk woman who was writing a thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

Blake Leggette, 26, and Victoria Henneberry, 28, are both charged with first-degree murder.

Saunders, 26, disappeared from her Halifax home on Feb. 13. Her body was found in a ditch along the Trans-Canada Highway near Salisbury, N.B., on Feb. 26. She was three months pregnant.

Leggette and Henneberry were subletting an apartment from Saunders, who was a student at Saint Mary's University in Halifax. Police allege the pair killed Saunders at her apartment, stuffed her body in a hockey bag and took off.

Saunders' car was found in Harrow, Ont., near Windsor, on Feb. 18. Leggette and Henneberry were arrested when the car was found.

More than a dozen members of the Saunders family travelled from Labrador to attend the Halifax hearing. Many sobbed while evidence was being presented. Three ran weeping from the courtroom.

Outside of the courthouse, Loretta's brother Edmund yelled, "Coward!" as Leggette was led from the sheriff's truck.

He told reporters his family "has been destroyed" by his sister's death.

"Every day I wake up with the echoes of my mother's wailing, her grief when she heard my sister and her unborn baby were dead," Edmund said before the hearing started. "My parents have been robbed of a daughter and a granddaughter. They were looking forward to the sheer joy of a baby and now they are left with this."

The hearing, which will determine if there is enough evidence to go to trial, is scheduled to last four days.

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