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Hearings begin for couple accused in Loretta Saunders murder case

Mervin Leclair holds up a photo of Loretta Saunders during a vigil in Ottawa on March 5, 2014. Victoria Henneberry, 28, and her boyfriend, Blake Leggette, 26, are charged with first-degree murder in connection with Ms. Saunders’s death.

DAVE CHAN/The Globe and Mail

The couple accused in the death of Saint Mary's University student Loretta Saunders are to appear in provincial court Monday morning for the beginning of their preliminary hearing.

Victoria Henneberry, 28, and her boyfriend, Blake Leggette, 26, are charged with first-degree murder after the body of Ms. Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk woman from a close-knit Labrador family, was found dumped in the median of the Trans-Canada highway in New Brunswick last February.

A handful of Ms. Saunders's family and friends were in the parking lot for the pair's arrival at the Halifax courtroom.

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The preliminary hearing, which will hear the evidence the police have collected in the case, is scheduled for four days this week and one other day later in August.

Ms. Saunders, an undergraduate criminology student whose thesis proposal was on the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal girls and women, went missing on Feb. 13.

Her disappearance provoked a search throughout Halifax and beyond. Some of her family members traveled from Labrador to search and were joined by friends and even strangers.

Two weeks after she disappeared, police found her body. But they believe she was killed in her 10th-floor Halifax apartment the day she went missing. Ms. Henneberry and Mr. Leggette were described by police as her roommates and lived in the apartment for about a month.

Police have not said what they believe the motive to be or whether they have found a murder weapon.

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