Loretta Saunders’ family wants justice for baby: Father says case should be double-murder

Metro Halifax comments@cbpost.com
Published on July 22, 2014
Family members of Loretta Saunders leave the courtroom in tears during the first day of a preliminary hearing at Halifax Provincial Court.
Metro Halifax/Jeff Harper

HALIFAX - The father of murder victim Loretta Saunders says the Canadian justice system should recognize that his daughter was pregnant at the time of her murder and it should be able to lay charges in the baby’s death as well.

Saunders was in the first trimester of her pregnancy, living in Halifax, when she was murdered Feb. 13. Her body was discovered two weeks later on the Trans-Canada Highway in Moncton.

“It’s a human being, a living human being and I think the courts should recognize this,” Clayton Saunders told reporters outside provincial court on Monday, the first day of the preliminary inquiry.

“They should be charged with a double murder, double first-degree murder because she was going to have a baby.”

Blake Leggette, 26, and his girlfriend Victoria Henneberry, 28, are charged with first-degree murder. They were subletting a Cowie Hill apartment from Loretta and apparently owed her money.

“Baby killer,” was shouted at Leggette as he was taken from the sheriff’s vehicle into the courthouse.

Leggette appeared with a closely shaved head and short chin beard. During the first witnesses testimony, Leggette mostly looked straight ahead without showing emotion. At one point he held his head in his hands.

Henneberry also mostly sat looking straight ahead, but at one point tucked her knee up to her chest and cradled her face in her arms.

Sobs could be heard from the people in the gallery and several people left the courtroom during the witness’s testimony.

“I’m not in court,” said Clayton. “I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it because the people coming out are saying it’s really hard.”

The Crown is prepared to call 15 witnesses to the stand, including police officers and Loretta’s mother, brother and sister.

“We have a realistic prospect of conviction and we intend on prosecuting these individuals with the evidence we have,” said Crown attorney Christine Driscoll. “At any point, if defence has anything they want to bring and talk to us, we’re always open to discuss with them.”

Four-and-a-half days have been set aside for the trial, with an additional day booked on August 1.