The preliminary inquiry in the case of two accused of murdering Loretta Saunders continued today in Halifax.

Loretta Saunders

Victoria Henneberry, 28, and Blake Leggette, 26, of Halifax are charged with first-degree murder in the death of the 26-year-old Saint Mary's University student.

Early Tuesday, Judge Anne Derrick excluded everyone from the court for voir dire, including the Saunders family and media. Only Legette, Henneberry, the lawyers and sheriffs were allowed to stay.

Voir dire is a trial within a trial where lawyers discuss points of law and the admissibility of evidence.

The hearings are scheduled in Halifax provincial court all week.

Senior Crown attorney Christine Driscoll said outside court she expects to call 15 police and civilian witnesses to testify.

National search

Saunders is the Halifax student whose slaying renewed calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

henneberry and leggette

Victoria Henneberry, left, and Blake Leggette, are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Saunders. A preliminary hearing for the pair has been going on all week. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

The 26-year-old student disappeared from Halifax on Feb. 13. 

Henneberry and Leggette had been subletting Saunders's apartment in Cowie Hill.

They were arrested in Ontario with her car five days after she disappeared.

Saunders's body was later found in a wooded area off the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick on Feb. 26.

On Monday, defence lawyers for Henneberry and Leggette made the standard request for a publication ban, which was granted.

Publication bans protect the suspects' right to a fair trial. Preliminary hearings determine whether there is enough evidence to require a trial.

The preliminary hearings are set for July 21 to 25 and, if necessary, Aug. 1.

Saunders was Inuk and her homicide sparked a call for a public inquiry.

At the time of her disappearance, Saunders was doing her thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

With files from The Canadian Press