Loretta Saunders murder case: preliminary hearing to wrap Friday
Victoria Henneberry, Blake Leggette charged with 1st-degree murder in university student's death
The couple accused of killing Saint Mary's University student Loretta Saunders will be back in Halifax provincial court Friday for closing arguments in their week-long preliminary hearing.
Victoria Henneberry, 28, and Blake Leggette, 26, who are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Saunders earlier this year, arrived in court for the fourth day of the hearing around 7:30 a.m. AT Thursday.
The Halifax pair were separately whisked into the building early and escorted by about two dozen police officers and sheriffs a day after Saunders's uncle lunged at them in court.
The court heard from several police and civilian witnesses today, but their testimony is subject to a publication ban.
Preliminary hearings are held to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed to trial. Judge Anne Derrick will decide on Aug. 1 if Henneberry and Leggette will face a trial.
Saunders, 26, disappeared from Halifax on Feb. 13. Henneberry and Leggette had been subletting her apartment in Cowie Hill. They were arrested in Ontario with her car five days after she disappeared. Her body was found in a wooded area off the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick on Feb. 26.
On Wednesday, Herman MacLean lunged at the two accused. Other family members grabbed him before he could reach the two. Authorities hustled Leggette and Henneberry into a secure corridor while sheriffs rushed into the courtroom.
After the incident, members of the Saunders family pleaded with MacLean to calm down.
"We're here for Loretta," said one family member as others broke down sobbing.
The family was then escorted out of the courtroom to a waiting room.
Once the area was cleared, Leggette and Henneberry were taken back to their cells.
After a morning break, the hearing resumed.
"The sheriffs here are doing an exceptional job. They did an exceptional job this afternoon and contained the situation," said Sheppard.
Police with assault rifles and extra sheriffs were on hand Wednesday as Henneberry and Leggette were taken back to jail for the night.
Even before the outburst, emotions were running high.
Saunders's family members and other supporters waited for Leggette and Henneberry to arrive at the courthouse on Wednesday morning, holding signs bearing the slain woman's photo.
"What did you do to my daughter?" screamed Saunders's mother. "Coward. Tell me."
The slaying of Saunders renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women. She was Inuk, and at the time of her death was studying Canada's many missing and murdered aboriginal women.
With files from The Canadian Press