Hen­neberry granted ex­ten­sion to ap­ply for ap­peal

Says mur­der con­vic­tion should be over­turned, pan­icked when en­ter­ing plea

Cape Breton Post - - PROVINCE -

Nova Sco­tia’s high­est court agreed Wed­nes­day to al­low Vic­to­ria Hen­neberry to file a late ap­pli­ca­tion to ap­peal her mur­der con­vic­tion in the slay­ing of Loretta Saun­ders, a young Inuit woman from Labrador whose body was found on the side of a New Brunswick high­way in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

In April, Hen­neberry pleaded guilty to sec­ond-de­gree mur­der, and her boyfriend, Blake Leggette, pleaded guilty to first­de­gree mur­der.

Saun­ders was a 26-year-old stu­dent at Saint Mary’s Univer­sity in Hal­i­fax, where she fo­cused her stud­ies on miss­ing and mur­dered abo­rig­i­nal women.

In doc­u­ments filed with the court, Hen­neberry says her con­vic­tion should be over­turned and a new trial or­dered on the grounds that she pan­icked when en­ter­ing her plea.

“I wasn’t in the right mind­set when I made my plea,” Hen­neberry says in a no­tice of ap­peal filed June 25. “I was dis­traught, un­der a great deal of stress and pan­icked. I’m not guilty of the charge of sec­ond­de­gree mur­der.”

Hen­neberr y had missed the 30-day dead­line to file her ap­pli­ca­tion with the Nova Sco­tia Court of Ap­peal, but the Crown agreed Wed­nes­day dur­ing a con­fer­ence call to al­low an ex­ten­sion to Aug. 21.

In an af­fi­davit dated July 3, Hen­neberry says she failed to meet the 30-day dead­line be­cause her lawyer gave her the wrong in­for­ma­tion, or she may have mis­un­der­stood what she was told.

Hen­neberry was sen­tenced to life in prison with no el­i­gi­bil­ity for pa­role for 10 years while Leggette was sen­tenced to a manda­tory life sen­tence with no pa­role el­i­gi­bil­ity for 25 years.

“Af­ter the sen­tenc­ing, I was quite over­whelmed by the or­deal but still planned to ap­peal,” she says in an af­fi­davit dated July 8. “My hopes are to have an ap­peal granted in or­der to have an over­turned con­vic­tion or a fair and im­par­tial trial.”

Even though the Crown has agreed to the ex­ten­sion, “that does not mean that we’re agree­ing that the ap­peal has any merit,” said Chris Hansen, spokes­woman for Nova Sco­tia’s Public Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice.

She said another tele­con­fer­ence has been sched­uled for Sept. 2 for lawyers to sort out is­sues be­fore any ar­gu­ments are de­liv­ered.

Hen­neberry re­mains in­car­cer- ated at the Nova In­sti­tu­tion for Women in Truro, N.S.

Leggette and Hen­neberry en­tered their guilty pleas as their mur­der trial was start­ing on April 22.

Two state­ments of fact sub­mit­ted to Nova Sco­tia Supreme Court say the cou­ple was hav­ing “fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties” soon af­ter they moved into a sub­let room in Saun­ders’ apart­ment, which they had found through a Ki­jiji ad in Jan­uary 2014.

The doc­u­ments say the two wanted to get out of Hal­i­fax, but give no in­di­ca­tion why.

“Mr. Leggette planned to kill Ms. Saun­ders, take her car and leave the province,” both state­ments say.

On Feb. 13, 2014, Saun­ders went to col­lect rent from the cou­ple but they didn’t have the money, and Hen­neberry lied when she said she had lost her bank card and needed to con­tact her bank, ac­cord­ing to one of the state­ments.

Leggette then grabbed Saun­ders by the throat and choked her, but the young woman fought back, man­ag­ing to tear through the three plas­tic bags he pulled over her head.

At one point, Leggette and Saun­ders fell down. He twice hit her head on the floor and she stopped mov­ing.

“Ms. Hen­neberry re­mained dur­ing the strug­gle,” the doc­u­ments say.

Saun­ders body was found in a hockey bag on the side of the Trans-Canada High­way near Sal­is­bury, N.B., about two weeks af­ter she was last seen on Feb. 13, 2014.

Leggette and Hen­neberry were ar­rested five days later in Har­row, Ont., while driv­ing Saun­ders’ car. They also had the young woman’s phone, bank card and iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.


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