The sister of slain Inuk woman Loretta Saunders is upset that one of the killers is going ahead with appealing her murder conviction.
“It’s a slap in the face,” Delilah Saunders said in a phone interview about Victoria Henneberry’s upcoming appeal hearing later this week.
“It shows that she (Victoria Henneberry) is not taking responsibility for her part in taking a life and throwing that woman, my sister, a daughter, a mother to be, an auntie, a best friend, throwing her on the side of the road like a piece of trash,” Saunders said.
Loretta Saunders, 26, from Labrador, was attending Saint Mary’s University in Halifax when she went missing from her Halifax apartment on Feb. 13, 2014.
Two weeks later, her body was found in a hockey bag in the median along the Trans-Canada Highway near Salisbury, New Brunswick.
Loretta Saunders was “someone who was on the cusp of achieving all her dreams,” Delilah Saunders said.
“Things she had fought so hard for, things that she fought so hard to overcome and achieve, and to have that taken away by people you don’t even know, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.
Saunders was focusing her studies on missing and murdered Indigenous women at SMU.
Saunders went to apartment to collect rent when she was killed
According to court documents, Saunders was subletting a room in her apartment to Henneberry and her boyfriend, Blake Leggette, at the time of her murder. The couple were having financial trouble and were unable to pay rent. When Saunders arrived at her apartment to collect the money, Leggette attacked her.
Leggette came up behind Saunders who was sitting on a couch and began choking her. They struggled and both ended up on the floor. Legette put several plastic bags over Saunders’ head to suffocate her but she ripped through each bag. He then hit her head against the floor until her body went limp.
After placing Saunders’ body in a hockey bag and putting her in the trunk of her own car, the couple then stole her car and identification.
They texted her family members with her cell phone, misleading the family and police.
On Feb. 18, 2014, the couple was found in Southern Ontario where they were brought back to Nova Scotia and charged with murder.
Both Henneberry and Leggette pleaded guilty to killing Saunders in April 2015. Leggette pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and must serve 25 years in prison before he can apply for parole. Henneberry pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is eligible for parole after serving 10 years in prison.
However, Henneberry filed a Notice to Appeal in July 2015 stating that she wasn’t in the right mindset when she pleaded guilty.
“I was distraught, under a great deal of stress and panicked,” Henneberry wrote in her notice to the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal. “I’m not guilty of the charge of second-degree murder,” she wrote.
After a conviction, an individual has 30 days to file an appeal. Henneberry missed that window but the court allowed her to file a late application.
Family members of Loretta Saunders plan on attending the two-day appeal hearing which begins on Wednesday in Halifax.
“We want to show them and Victoria that Loretta is still very important and that we aren’t going to stop fighting for her and fighting for justice,” Delilah Saunders said.
She (Victoria Henneberry) needs to be held accountable.”